Black iron sand discovered in typhoon-stricken Boston town, baffles Davao Oriental, Surigao authorities

feb 12, 2104

A sediment called as black sand or iron sand that accumulated in a seashore of the border Boston town has brought confusion and division among authorities in the provinces of Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur.

Just a month ago the black sand found at the seashore of Barangay Cabasagan was started to be “mined” becoming a new livelihood of the Boston people who have not yet recovered from the onslaughts of typhoon Pablo.

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A pail of black sand selectively scraped and dug in the seashore gives an income of P5 for the laborers and P6 for the landowners, or a buying price of P11 from a buyer, a certain Maria Lemai Cayanan.

A pail of the material weighs about 50 kilos.

But suddenly last week a stoppage order was issued by the Bureau of Mines-Caraga Region for environmental reason.

Weeks prior the stoppage order, “it was like fiesta everyday seeing many people scraping on the shoreline with their pails. People here are so miserable, jobless and are begging for rice, even stealing raw cardava bananas from farmers for the survival of their children. We have not recovered yet from typhoon Pablo,” said Junjun Castillones, one of the hundreds of Boston people partaking from the bonanza of finding the iron sand.

He said the extraction activities became so busy just starting last month until people temporarily stopped as they still await for the balance of the payment for their labor from Cayanan.

A representative on a landowner PO3 Joedin Montejo said that during his childhood he had already seen the black sand just lying idle in his parent’s land by the sea.

He said it was in November last year that they were approached by the buyer to buy the black sand.

Davao Oriental Corazon Malanyaon on Monday stepped in and gave two months for the buying party to secure necessary papers.

“The black sand is like a blessing that drops on the ground to give livelihood to the people of Boston after the destructive typhoon Pablo. We’ll not stop this. But we need to formally arrange the activity,” the governor said, appearing as guest before the town council in session on Monday.

“What’s the character of the black sand? Is it a mineral resource or just pure sand and gravel? Are people mining? or just quarrying? If it’s a mineral, it’s no longer under the jurisdiction of the local government but the MGB. We need to legitimize and follow the process,” she said.

Gov. Malanyaon added that the buyer also needs to pay taxes to improve the price “pending our own studies and calculations.”

Judith Castes, executive assistant of Boston Mayor Rebecco Rosit, Sr, said that his mayor was also perplexed of the situation as quarrying for sand and gravel should be done only 200 meters from the low tide, and “we know it’s illegal but we could not also prevent people to have livelihood to survive.”

He said that people were not mining but “scraping on surface only” as the sediments are washed on and out by the heavy waves of the sea.

The governor received information from the floor that some 32 truckloads of black sand were reportedly hauled already off from Cabasagan shoreline, estimated with a value of more than P1 million. Separate reports said that a metric ton of the black sand fetch a price of P3,500 in Manila market.

But last Friday six hauling trucks loaded with black sand were flagged down and hauled off to municipal grounds by policemen on order of Mayor Jimmy Luna of the adjacent Lianga town in Surigao del Sur.

“Lingig has abundant black sand, which is important part of our coastal resources and our mayor was enraged that the buyer did not even inform the local government on her activities in our town,” said Councilor Tany Dapitanon in an interview.

He added that the buyer is reportedly shipping out the material bound for Manila via the PICOP port in Barangay Lawigan, Bislig City.

He said that the buyer a certain Mrs. Aquino had extracted the black sand at the town’s Barangay San Roque and not from Barangay Cabasagan of Boston, an allegation denied by the buyer’s drivers in separate interview.

The councilor said he did not saw the name of Cayanan in the hauling documents they included in their seizure, as he could not say if Mrs. Aquino is the same person with Cayanan. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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