The Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 7 is asking for a barangay council resolution, and a signature campaign by residents of Tambacan in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, expressing their opposition to a mineral processing plant erected in the barangay.

Chief Efren Rombawa of the Negros Oriental Community Environment and Natural Resources Office II, said these are the requirements for the MGB-7 to issue an order as requested by Gov. Roel Degamo for the dismantling of the mineral processing plant.

The processing plant of the Sino-Italy Construction Philippines Inc. was erected in late 2013 after the Tanjay City government and the company inked a memorandum of agreement for a multi-million pesos dredging project at the Tanjay River.

The project has become a bone of contention between the LGU and hundreds of Tanjay residents protesting what they believe is a black sand mining project held in the guise of dredging.

Recently, irate residents barricaded the road leading to the mineral processing plant, claiming that the contractor had defied the cease-and-desist order of Degamo and allegedly operated their machinery.

Degamo issued the CDO, saying the project was unlawful as it does not have a dredging permit from the provincial government.

Rombawa said the MGB-7 had issued the Sino-Italy a permit to install the processing plant, and a mineral processing permit.

He added that in a recent meeting with Degamo and other stakeholders, the MGB-7 had requested for a barangay resolution opposing both permits and, if possible, a signature campaign, before they can act on the governor’s request to take down the processing plant.

Last week, Sino-Italy, through the Moya Law Office, wrote to the Tanjay City government, headed by Mayor Lawrence Teves, saying that “due to external forces and pressure against the dredging project”, it will suspend its operations, cease its trial run and dismantle its machineries.

It also hinted of legal action against those who violated or disputed the memorandum of understanding, and all those responsible for causing delay and disturbance to the project. The dismantling of the processing plant was initially scheduled Tuesday but hit a snag after the protesters refused to take down the barricades, unless a written agreement was signed by the parties involved, to protect them from possible accusations, such as unlawfully destroying property belonging to the contractor.

A status quo continued at the project site in Tambacan up to press time yesterday.*JFP