‘SHOCKING’

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Env’t groups lock arms to protest planned Bulacan airport

Environment groups have joined forces to protest the planned reclamation of about 29,600 hectares of Manila Bay, which, they said, would cause the destruction of wide swathes of mangrove forests and upset the marine ecosystem there.

People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystems (People’s Niche), a newly-formed alliance of environmental advocates, has launched a campaign to oppose various government projects under the government’s massive infrastructure program, including the proposed P700-billion airport project in Bulacan province.

According to the group, the “Aerotropolis airport project” is an unsolicited venture by San Miguel Corporation, which was approved by the Philippine government in March. The project would reclaim some 2,500 hectares of mangrove forests on Manila Bay — roughly the size of 124 basketball courts.

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CHEATS

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A mine worker takes a break while manning an outpost at the tailings pond of the gold-copper project of OceanaGold, Inc. in Didipio, Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya. Provincial officials have vowed to block the application for renewal of its mining license, which expires in 2019, due to controversies that had hounded its operations. Photo by Melvin Gascon

Nueva Vizcaya board blocks Aussie mine firm’s bid to renew expiring permit

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — Provincial officials here on Monday made clear they were blocking attempts by a mining foreign firm’s to renew its permit, as they assailed its “bad faith” in its dealings with the people Nueva Vizcaya as host province of its gold-copper project.

Board members vowed not to endorse the new mining permit for OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. citing a pile of problems that had hounded its operations since it was granted a license in 1994.

“This mining company has shown bad faith in its dealings with our province, and must no longer be allowed to continue operating for all the sufferings it has brought to our people,” said board member Flodemonte Gerdan on Tuesday (Feb. 27).

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BURST

Delays plague ‘Build!’ bridge projects in N. Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–At least seven out of eight bridge projects being constructed here under the government’s “Build, Build, Build!” infrastructure program have suffered delays, affecting travel in the Cagayan Valley region.

All of these unfinished bridge-widening projects here and in Diadi town, are along Daang Maharlika, the region’s main highway, and have been blamed for a number of road crashes and traffic congestion.

Records from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) show that the eight bridge projects, with a total cost P195 million, have incurred delays, some by as long as seven months.

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Vehicles negotiate a narrow portion of the national highway in Barangay Bonfal West in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, as workers of a bridge widening project there try to finish the work despite falling seven months behind schedule.  In January, a motorcycle rider died while four others were injured in a crash on this exact spot. Photo by Melvin Gascon

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CRUSHED

Life crumbles for family of OFW killed in Taiwan quake
By Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon

TUGUEGARAO CITY— Normida Albano, 49, sobbed as she clutched a framed college graduation photograph of Melody Castro, the overseas Filipino worker who was among those reported killed when a magnitude 6.4 quake hit the island state of Taiwan on Tuesday evening.

“This is all I can hug for now, just so I can grieve,” she said about her first-born child on Friday. Nearby sat Albano’s granddaughter, Melody’s only child, 6-year-old Given Grace, who was barely aware of the tragedy that has struck the family. News confirming Melody’s death still has to sink in.

But the family said they would need to steel themselves for the long wait until her remains are returned to remote Banguian village, a quaint farming community at the banks of the river in Abulug town in northern Cagayan, about 130 km north of this capital city.

“We have no one to turn to… What happens to us now? We are still mired in so much debt,” Albano admitted.

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The Yun Tsui residential building in the Taiwanese city of Hualien where Filipina and Abulug, Cagayan native Melody Albano Castro, 28, was found dead following the magnitude 6.4 earthquake Wednesday. (AFP photo)

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NO SWIMMING

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Officials this week ordered the closure of this stretch of the white sand beach in Nangaramoan in Barangay San Vicente in Santa Ana, Cagayan, the growing popularity of which has spawned an unregulated and unplanned sprouting of structures near the beach, as seen on this aerial photo during a recent inspection conducted by the town government of Santa Ana. Photo courtesy of Santa Ana Tourism Office

World’s finest beach closed over violations
By Melvin C. Gascon

TUGUEGARAO CITY—A stretch of white sand beach in Sta. Ana town touted as one of the best in the world has been shut down by authorities following its operators’ failure to comply with regulations, according to the administrator of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza).

Lawyer Raul Lambino, Ceza chief, said he ordered the operators of the beach at Sitio Nangaramoan in San Vicente village to put up sanitation facilities and observe building construction and environmental laws.

“We have to close down the beach to put things in order. And this will remain closed until we are able to rehabilitate it,” he said. Continue reading “NO SWIMMING”

DOOMED

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Ferraris, Porsches, Hummers at Cagayan ecozone to be wrecked
By Melvin C. Gascon

TUGUEGARAO CITY—At least 100 imported luxury cars in a warehouse at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZF) in Port Irene in Santa Ana town, Cagayan province, will be crushed and destroyed, according to lawyer Raul Lambino, administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza).

Lambino said he would order the destruction of the cars, some of them Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis, to send a message that the government was serious about its campaign against smuggling.

“Those cars will be sent to the crusher, definitely. We must destroy those to deliver a message that we will not tolerate activities like that,” he said, referring to the anomalous importation of secondhand vehicles using privileges granted to the Cagayan economic zone. Continue reading “DOOMED”

DEATH TRAPS

Cagayan Valley’s ‘bad’ roads tagged crash hazards

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Motorists have assailed the “horrendous” road conditions and the ongoing road repairs and bridge construction projects on the national highway in Cagayan Valley region, which were supposedly blamed for a number of deaths and crashes in recent days.

The national road, also known as Maharlika Highway, has been the subject of endless complaints from travelers who have suffered from crashes, near-mishaps, long delays and inconvenient travel due to bad road conditions and frequent repairs.

On Friday morning, one Joan Mendez, 31, was killed after she was pinned to death by a trailer truck that went wayward as it ran over a bumpy portion of the asphalt road in Barangay (village) Baretbet in Bagabag town. Continue reading “DEATH TRAPS”