Probinsyano Ako Partylist Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson on Wednesday, Dec. 1 urged Congress leaders to include in their priority list of legislations the bill proposing to put an end to the exportation of raw black sand and its derivatives.
Singson aired the appeal after the House Committee on Natural Resources unanimously approved last week House Bill 6321 or the “Black Sand Processing Act of 2020.”
Chaired by Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga the House panel endorsed the enactment of the bill that will limit to Filipinos the economic gains derived from processing of black sand mined in the country.
Singson, chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, said the bill will put an end to the country’s ‘generosity’ to other countries, particularly China, that has been mining black sand from various parts of the Philippines, process the raw form of the substance in their countries then import the finish products back then return the finish product to Manila.
Aside from prohibiting exportation of raw black sand, HB 6321 also requires mining and trading companies to bring mined black sand and derivatives in raw form for initial or advanced processing in domestic processing facilities.
Singson lauded his colleagues for endorsing the bill, saying that eventual enactment will hasten the country’s economic rebound from the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Singson said the pandemic era dictates that Philippines must “stop being generous” to other countries.
“Dead and dying businesses have to be revived to provide jobs for the growing number of Filipinos who have been rendered jobless as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The multi-billion dollar local black sand industry could provide the answer to these grave problems,” he said.
Singson stressed: “Let us stop being generous to other countries by allowing them to exploit our natural resources while we get scraps in return.” He filed House Bill 6321 proposing to prohibit the exportation of black sand in its raw form and to require firms involved in black sand mining either “individually or collectively, to institute, build, or lease advanced processing plants for magnetite within the province where they are conducting actual mining operations” Filed on February, 2020, HB 6321 allows exportation of the mineral only after the magnetite or its derivatives have been processed locally.
Singson revealed that “massive” black sand mining operations conducted by Chinese firms have been going on for years now in various localities in Regions I and II and in the Visayas.
Black sand mining operations by foreign or local firms require only a mayor’s permit from the local government unit concerned, thus, unrestrained exploitation is practically allowed.
The partylist solon warned that unregulated black sand mining causes erosion that trigger floods, a rise in sea level and other geohazards.
“Foreign companies take huge profits from exploiting our resources, our people absorb the environmental dangers the miners cause,” Singson lamented.