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Sunday, July 27, 2008

News: Group protests destruction of mountain in Zambales

Group protests destruction of mountain in Zambales

PALAUIG, ZAMBALES – The Olongapo-Zambales civil society network, composed of nongovernment organizations pushing Mt. Tapulao here as a mining-free area, staged a protest march in this town on Wednesday to save the mountain from miners and turn it into an ecotourism site.

Mayor Generoso Amog said he is leading moves to declare Tapulao, which Americans used to call "High Peak," into a "protected area or protected landscape."

Local officials said pine trees abound in Tapulao, one of the highest peaks in Central Luzon, and its unspoiled environment could rival the attractions of Baguio and Tagaytay cities. They said the mountain has at least eight waterfalls.

Amog said because of mining activities in some of its sections, Tapulao is now "in grave danger."

"Right now, the miners are tunneling all over the mountain in search for ore and they are putting the summit in danger of collapsing," he said.

Councilor Eric Alba said mining companies have long been in the area because of chromite ore abundant in Mt. Tapulao.

Amog said the local government and other groups are appealing for the cancellation of the license issued to the C-Square Mining Co., which, he said, has been operating in Mt. Tapulao since he was a boy.

"We are trying to move [to] declare the area a 'mine-free area,'" he said.

Amog said he hopes to turn Mt. Tapulao into an ecotourism site when C-Square's permit expires next month.

"That's why we are appealing to President Macapagal-Arroyo to declare Mt. Tapulao as a protected area so we can turn this into an eco-site for future generations," he said.

"If we lose Mt. Tapulao to miners, then we would lose a very beautiful spot in Zambales. I hope it doesn't go to waste," he said.

Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso said the mining permit granted to C-Square came "from the national level."

"They have been there for a long, long time," he said. Robert Gonzaga, Philippine Daily Inquirer