Sierra Leone dredging vessel wanted to quarry minerals: DENR official

Kat Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 05 2019 01:21 PM | Updated as of Apr 05 2019 01:43 PM

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MANILA - A Sierra Leone-registered dredging vessel spotted off the coast of Lobo, Batangas was there to quarry minerals and not just to dredge sand from the area, an environment official said Friday, noting that the ship presented "deceiving" permits.

Local officials earlier said the M/V Emerald wanted to quarry sand from waters near the coastal town of Lobo since last week, but data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed otherwise.

"Kitang-kita na deceiving 'yung kanilang mga application dahil mukhang ang talagang objective nila is to quarry, not only dredging," DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda told DZMM.

(It really shows that they presented deceiving applications because their real objective was to quarry, not only to dredge.)

"'Yung mineral po talaga 'yung target nila, hindi 'yung linisin ang lugar," he said.

(Their real target are the minerals, not to dredge the area.)

Antiporda confirmed that the ship's flag of convenience is Sierra Leone, a country located at the southwest coast of West Africa. He said the ship had both Chinese and Indonesian crew members. 

The DENR earlier said it suspended the M/V Emerald's planned operations in the area as the vessel failed to secure a mineral ore export permit from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

The ship also does not have operating and transport permits, Antiporda said.

The vessel only holds an environment compliance certificate and a 2008 memorandum of agreement with the local government signed by a certain Leo Campos from the Seagate Engineering and Build Systems, he said.

"Misinformed nga po sila. Hindi po natin alam sino nagbigay sa kanila ng assurance na puwede sila mag-operate," he said.

Despite the irregularities, a case will not be filed against the ship, Antiporda said.

"Walang makakasuhan, sad to say, kasi in the first place walang nangyari na activity," he said.

(No one will be charged sad to say because in the first place, there was no activity that took place.)

The M/V Emerald sailed away from the area around 7:30 a.m., Friday and will dock at Batangas port, local officials said.