In a letter, Evardone told Cimatu that the foreign ship, which has 13 Chinese crewmembers and four Myanmar nationals, was loading mined ore from the island this week, thus jeopardizing the health and safety of residents.
Andy G. Zapata Jr./ File
Samar governor wants stop to Chinese vessel loading chromite
Miriam Desacada (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2020 - 12:00am

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines  – Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone has spearheaded an urgent appeal to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to stop the loading of chromite ore onto a Chinese vessel docked at a mining port in Homonhon Island, Guiuan town.

In a letter, Evardone told Cimatu that the foreign ship, which has 13 Chinese crewmembers and four Myanmar nationals, was loading mined ore from the island this week, thus jeopardizing the health and safety of residents.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered last April 3 the suspension of the Mineral Ore Export Permit it issued to the island-based mining company Techiron Resources, but lifted it eight days later.

This prompted Evardone to call on Cimatu to look into the MGB decision and reconsider the lifting of the suspension order on mining operations in the island.

The ship, M/V VW Peace, was supposed to load 7,000 metric tons of chromite ore – worth more than P61 million – before it was barred by Guiuan town from docking at the historic island of Homonhon, where Ferdinand Magellan landed 499 years ago and is now an island-barangay of Guiuan.

Commodore Armand Balilo, Philippine Coast Guard spokesman, said they would stop the vessel from entering Samar if there is an order to do so. They have yet to receive such order.

He also said it would be the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) that will decide whether or not to allow entry of the vessel.

The PCG, he added, is currently implementing a “no sail policy” for passenger vessels amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, except for cruise ships carrying Filipino nationals.

Asked if he considered the entry of the vessel a threat to residents, Balilo said that anything that enters the Philippines should be considered a threat and that there should be calibrated efforts, especially on health protocols.

“The bottom line is the spread of the virus will be avoided,” Balilo stressed.

In his letter, Evardone pointed out that “the people of Eastern Samar have raised serious concern on the possible danger this poses to public health while our province is under general community quarantine due to… COVID-19.”

He asked Cimatu to heed his appeal for “humanitarian considerations” and to protect his constituents in Eastern Samar, which has no COVID cases yet, from possible infection. – With Robertzon Ramirez

ROY CIMATU
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