MANILA (UPDATE) --A dredging project supposed to be conducted by a Chinese vessel in Lobo, Batangas has been suspended, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Wednesday.
The dredging vessel, which docked Thursday in the coastal town, will be used for shipping sand from the Lobo River as part of a flood control project of the local government and Filipino firm Seagate Engineering and Buildsystems, said a military official.
The project has an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), but lacks several required documents like permit to transport and clearance from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, said Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.
"Ang instruction po is i-suspend muna at alamin kung ano ba yung mga kakulangan sa kanilang papel," he told radio DZMM.
"In case po na hindi po talaga magiging maganda sa atin pong kalikasan itong kanilang gagawin, hindi po papayagan iyan."
(The instruction was to suspend the project and find out their lacking documents. In case that it will be bad for our environment, this will not be allowed.)
The ship has yet to start operating in Lobo, which lies south of the capital and is known for its white sand beach, said Antiporda.
Lobo Mayor Gaudioso Manalo earlier said the ship lacks a dredging permit and its representatives only showed a 2008 agreement with local government.
The environment department is reviewing the set-up under which local governments are allowed to issue permits for exporting minerals from their areas.
The Chinese vessel's anchorage in Lobo is covered by a shifting order from the Batangas City port, said Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago.
The Philippine Coast Guard-Southern Tagalog said it cannot order the vessel to leave because no violation has been committed.
The project's contract must be rescinded first, according to PCG-Southern Tagalog District Director Commodore Artemio Abu.
"The good mayor called me up earlier and he made the directive to leave. I told him I cannot just direct the vessel to leave because there is no violation yet," Abu told ANC.
"They need to rescind first the contract with the project owner and also the municipal resolution."