November 4, 2012
“We call it environmental plunder for one reason: it devastated the environment for profit in the interest of few,” said Anna Patricia Santos, VP for Luzon of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.
This was the response of the Guild after Pangasinan Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan denied the findings of CEGP members in an on-site integration to verify reports from local residents that Black Sand Mining is happening in the province.
Baraan also accused the Guilders of irresponsible journalism and being subjective in dealing with the issue, invoking political grandstanding insinuated by those in the opposition of Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. Santos denied this saying “we don’t even want to meddle in local politics, our membership span across the country, what interest do we have in making Espino look like the bad guy? We should look at the issue, and the issue is legitimate”.
The word war between Baraan and Santos has spurred interest among student journalists especially when the former denied reports that there was mining activity in the area. The evidence gathered by members of the Guild showed black sand mining as an on-going commercial activity along the shoreline of Lingayen.
“We are not blind, and most especially we are not deaf to the rants and problems of the people living in that area. Our passion for responsible journalism would dictate us to expose the truth and find a better alternative. That’s what we’re doing now” Santos added.
The Provincial Government of Pangasinan denies that black sand mining ever took place at Brgy. Malimpuec and Sabangan, in Lingayen town, but a permit was issued to Xypher Builders to “extract and utilize loose and unconsolidated materials and recover the associated magnetite sand” situated in Barangay Sabangan.
CEGP opposed the statement that magnetite is a harmful element in the sand. According to Kaduami, offshore mining of magnetite can increase vulnerability to floods as magnetite holds the sand together. The absence of magnetite in the sand can deplete and erode the coastal and near-shore areas as the experience of Bauang, La Union had shown.
The report that residents are in favor of the development plan is dubious. During CEGP’s integration in Brgy. Malimpuec last October 23, a local elder who refused to be named in fear that the government might get back to them, said “Paano ka sasang-ayon sa isang programa kung saan babakuran nila ang dagat at aagawin sayo sa kabuhayan mo?”
Objectivity and Responsible Journalism
Baraan said that those who criticize the black sand mining
“(should) be always open-minded, not one-sided.” He said this after members of CEGP went into the mining site without the provincial government’s consent.
“CEGP looked into their side of the story and urged them to give us evidence of a golf course in making,” Santos added in an instant open forum when Baraan and two other provincial government officials came during the Luzon wide Convention of Campus Journalists a day after the on-site inspection.
CEGP challenged the Provincial Government to take the side of the people and prioritize the community. The Provincial Government has collaborated with Xypher Builders in the project in the essence of Public-Private-Partnership putting the interest for profit over the interest of the people. “We are not against development if it will benefit the people, but if development is for the destruction of the community’s livelihood, that I think is where responsible journalists should come in” Santos added.
Objectivism is not to be influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.
“We may not have been objective since we choose to be influenced by the interest of the people,” Santos said. “we stand firm that TO WRITE IS ALREADY TO CHOOSE, it has been the call of the guild in its 81 years of existence.”###