CAOAYAN, Ilocos Sur — Former mayor Germie Goulart of this town vehemently denied the existence of blacksand mining here, even inviting everyone for an ocular inspection in the areas where her critics have identified.
In an exclusive interview with the Ilocos Sur Integrated Press for its Kapihan Iti Amianan Media Forum program aired through Iluko Heritage Channel 16 over the weekend, Goulart, however admitted there is a need to dredge Abra River from Caoayan to Banaoang so as to prevent flooding in the town. She said that the equipment that people see are actually separators to dredge the river.
“No blacksand will be taken away but will be put in depositories until the national government will decide what will happen to the blacksand deposits. Saan a maipanaw, only the gravel and sand because that is the main business of the investor – Isla Verde. The separators will separate gravel, sand and blacksand. The plan was to restore the original state of Banaoang River so as to prevent the water from flooding our areas,” she said.
She also pointed out that the plan to dredge the river was attended before by the multi-media sector including the NGOs, experts, representatives from the MGB (Mines and Geo-Science Bureau), the EMB (Environmental Management Bureau), the DPWH, the DENR and the LGUs.
“To prove that there is no mining here, the EMB and the MGB usually hold their meetings here and if there is really mining here, nabayag koman a napaserraan dayta a facility. There is a sectoral monitoring team organized to meet and oversee the dredging of Abra River. This is the issue that my political opponents are throwing at me. They are the ones mining for issues,” she said.
She also said there is an urgent need, too, to dredge Mestizo River because it has become very shallow and it overflows adding to the flooding woes of the town.
“The Office of Civil Defense has identified Caoayan as a catch basin and we need, most especially, to dredge Mestizo River which has become very shallow. It usually overflows, causing flood in our town,” she said.
She also showed pictures of Mestizo River where it has shallowed up to knee-deep.
“No mabalin la koma ket ma-dredge no bigaten. Dapat umadalem ta karayan tapno dikam malayus. Mestizo River is very shallow. During our fluvial parade from the bridge to the West Philippine Sea, halos bagkatendan dagita bangkada. It is still very much alive with lots of fishes, but we need to restore it to its original self and to remove too all the feeds deposits consumed by the fishes in the fish ponds,”she said.
In politics, although “blood is thicker than water,” she said her support remains neutral in the fight for the 1st District congressional race between Congressman DV Savellano and former Congressman Ronald Singson. The latter is a relative of Goulart.
“Congressman DV has done a lot of good things to Caoayan, Ronald, too,” she said.
Goulart will take over his son Paulo in running as Caoayan mayor in the elections this coming May 13. Her candidacy will be challenged by former Provincial Engineer Virgilio Llanes.