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Leyte farmers protest against black sand mining operation in prime agricultural lands

December 7, 2020

Dialogue between SAMACAMO and MGB VIII. Photo credit to Atty. Aaron Pedrosa

Tacloban, Leyte – Local green groups, farmers, and anti-mining activists called for the stoppage of magnetite sand mining operations in prime irrigated, agricultural lands in a protest caravan and press conference earlier today.

Members of Save MacArthur, Leyte Movement (SAMACAMO) led the protest action against the extraction of black sand, especially under the context of a health crisis. The project covers 7,400 hectares across five (5) municipalities namely Dulag, Mayorga, MacArthur, Javier and Abuyog.

A dialogue between Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) VIII Regional Director Leo Van Juguan and SAMACAMO, support groups Alyansa Tigil Mina and Sanlakas, and St. Isidore Parish took place. Complaint letters were also delivered to the local offices of Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Irrigation Authority (NIA).

The group emphasized that people’s livelihood and food security is vital for survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Brenie Morcilla of SAMACAMO, “Mining should not be prioritized by the local government. To choose economy over people’s safety and welfare is a betrayal of their role as officials.”

“DA said they will give us good quality seeds. I told them that the mining will cause further flooding so those seeds will just float in our farmlands,” Morcilla added.

In February, 2017, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) cancelled the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of Strong Built Mining Development Corporation due to violations committed. After a payment of fines and penalties, the order was lifted by DENR on November 13, 2019.

“To oppose mining operations, MacArtur residents have banded together under SAMACAMO. Among the issues raised include the lack of social acceptability and no-compliance with environmental and agricultural laws and regulations and regulations,” said Atty. Aaron Pedrosa of Sanlakas.

“We support the demands of SAMACAMO to immediately stop all mining operations in MacArthur, Leyte. Mining must not put at risk the food and water supply of rural areas”, said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.

Groups supporting the actions are Alyansa Tigil Mina, Sanlakasa, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Youth for Climate Justice, Oriang, and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino.

"This black-sand mining operation violated several laws such as the AFMA and the Clean Water Act aside from violating the “no-go zones” provision of the Philippine Mining Act itself”, Garganera added. "We demand that DENR and the Office of the President immediately issue a stoppage order. Finally, this mining operation goes against the apparent recognition of the Duterte administration that we are now in a climate emergency. If this is true, then there should be less mining, and not more.”

For more information, please contact:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator - 0917 549 8218 or

Caryl Pillora, ATM Policy, Research and Advocacy Officer - 0945 246 7271 or


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