One of three great rivers at the foot of Mt. Pinatubo, rendered impassable and long dead for two decades, and posing great risks to Zambales residents, will be rehabilitated by a mining company at no cost to the government.
The Maloma River traversing the Municipality of San Felipe in Zambales presently overflowing with lahar and floods during rainy days since the epic Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 will be rehabilitated by Spartan Mining and Development Corp.
Socrates G. Babia, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Spartan, announced that company will foot the-60 hectare dredging project, including the construction of a spillway and slope protection.
“The construction of a spillway and slope protection on both sides of the whole stretch of Maloma River to ensure that there will be no more flooding and that the river will be transformed to its former depth and water quality. These construction activities were approved by the DPWH and will be undertaken by Spartan as additional freebie,” Babia said.
“The project was rendered compliant with all the regulations and requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” Babia disclosed.
“We would like to thank DENR Secretary Rey Cimatu and his staff for this good news that will signal to all that worthy projects such as ours are given the much needed push by government under President Rodrigo Duterte,” Babia said.
“We are optimistic that not only will the ECC on the Maloma River and other two bigger rivers in Zambales namely Bucao River and Sto. Tomas River, which Spartan also applied for, five years ago. will be approved soon in line with President Duterte’s Economic Recovery Program,” he added.
Spartan will dredge and rehabilitate the two rivers at no cost to the government following similar DENR measures on river dredging and rehabilitation, Babia said.
Prior dredging rights were given to Spartan for the three rivers by the Department of Public Works and Highways after Spartan had complied with Department Order 139, series of 2014.
Spartan, according to Babia, is the only company that was able to comply with the stringent measures and very high standards of the said DPWH department order.
Since Mt. Pinatubo erupted 27 years ago, the three rivers of Maloma, Sto. Tomas, and Bucao were rendered impassable and dangerous by both the DPWH and DENR because of the billions of tons of lahar that cascaded from the mountain as a result of the eruption.
Arturo Libot, President and Chief Operations Officer said the issuance is long overdue and much awaited by the people of Zambales whose lives and properties are affected by the flooding and lahar overflows during rainy days along Maloma River, notwithstanding the other two bigger rivers presently filled to the rafters with lahar still awaiting to be dredged and rehabilitated.
“It’s a win- win situation for all parties as Spartan undertakes the dredging, an important flood mitigation activity in the rehabilitation and re-opening of the Maloma River channel,” Libot said.
Not only will flooding be prevented but the national and local government will get revenues in the form of taxes and extraction fees for every cubic meter of lahar sand Spartan dredges and sells to local and international buyers in need of construction sand, he said.
The dredging, rehabilitation and re-opening of the Maloma River channel will also spur job generation and economic activities for the people of Zambales.
Lahar, according to Libot, is the best source of construction and reclamation materials in the world.