Win-win solution amid deadlock with LaFarge

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EXTENDING the permit to operate the 50-year-old quarry site in Barangay San Isidro and Barangay San Roque in Angono, Rizal by another 25 years is definitely unacceptable but the local government is offering a win-win solution to end a deadlock.

For Angono Vice-Mayor Gerry Calderon, 50 years is long enough even as he underscored for the municipal government to consider public safety above anything else. Hence, the need for the safe closure of the 212-hectare mine site operated by LaFarge Holcim Holdings and its associates Delta Earthmoving Inc., Batong Angono Aggregates Corp. (BAAC), and the Concrete Aggregates Corporation (CAC) of the Ortigas Group.

Calderon, however, clarified that their call does not translate to an abrupt closure because what they wanted is for LaFarge Holcim to rehabilitate the area based on the approved Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Plan. In fact, he’d rather keep them as partners in the town which prides itself as the Art Capital of the Philippines.

In a chance meeting, Calderon said that he recognizes the country’s need for investments. However, he finds the idea of doing business at the expense of the environment and the people’s safety as awkward.

Calderon admits they’re up against all odds. He, however, fervently wished that in the event that Mines and Geosciences Bureau issues an extension, “seven years lang,” – a period which he fervently prays be spent on the extraction of the remaining mineable reserve.

But definitely not another 25 years as what the mining law prescribes as the maximum term for mining permit.

And for that reason, he has offered a win-win solution where the people of Angono would be guaranteed safety, while LaFarge Holcim may continue doing business – but not like the one that they’ve been into for the last 50 years. His proposal: an eco-city development.

He urged the investors behind LaFarge Holcim to consider putting up a modern-day community, which may come in the form of an eco-city development, built on the principles of sustainable design for the 212-hectare property of the Ortigas Group.

Calderon, who is a former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, knew exactly what he’s talking about. In fact, he hinted on the need for a mixed-use development that straddles the rolling hills of their locality.

His idea is to make the mine site into an integrated self-supporting eco-city to host a vast gathering of residential communities, business spaces, prestigious schools, shopping centers and hotels, among many others.

Equipped with an imaginative but enterprising mind, he also hinted at the idea of seeing a veritable stomping ground for outdoor adventure enthusiasts with nature amenities, which include mountain bike trails, a multi-functional lake, hiking paths, a wildlife and bird sanctuary, and camping grounds.

Gerry, a friend since 1989, has every reason to believe that what he is talking about is doable.

He cited the Rockwell Center in Makati City. From a hazard belt to what it is today – one of the best eco-city development prototypes in the country.  This place used to be a thermal power plant. It was transformed into a chic, upscale shopping hub housing thoughtfully selected stores and establishments.

Another place he mentioned is the 50-hectare McKinley Hill in Taguig City, which hosts the Venice Grand Canal that showcases an award-winning architectural design. Taking cue from its name, the eco-city development project sports an Italian-inspired architectural design inspired by the Grand Canal in the classical city of Venice, Italy. The grandiose place used to be a wasteland.

Not far from Angono is the 105-hectare San Mateo Sanitary Landfill, which was decommissioned in year 2000 and is just waiting to be tapped for economic dynamism, which Calderon has aptly referred to as the key to keep LaFarge in business while adhering to the Angono local government’s masterplan embarking on an eco-friendly economic policy.

Speaking of policy, the Angono LGU has translated this policy into remarkable tangible projects, which would be best described if one would visit the place. And mind you, all I have seen in this place is simply amazing.

Post Script: My friend Gerry clarified that they would definitely take the lead back into the street parliamentary, or protest rally as commonly referred to, in the event that the MGB issues an extension beyond seven years.

My Take: Pag lumabis sa seven years, siguradong may biglang yaman sa MGB.

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