The city government has identified Barangay Mangingisda as a possible relocation site for the families affected by mercury contamination in Sta Lourdes, Tagburos, and the coastal areas of Honda Bay.
City Administrator Florencio Fernandez Jr. said Friday they are coordinating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in developing a comprehensive plan for the families that will require relocation.
He explained that the relocation plan will ensure that the affected residents will have adequate livelihood facilities and access to basic services.
“Kagaya din nung mga nakaraan, relocate tayo ng relocate pero bakit sila balik nang balik para mabuhay. Dapat magkaroon kami ng comprehensive na plano, hindi lang ‘yung malipat, tapos tama na,” he said.
Fernandez said there were 77 individuals who had tested positive for mercury contamination based on tests conducted by the Department of Health. (RELATED: CRISIS IN THE LAST FRONTIER: Mercury poisoning detected in residents of two barangays in Puerto Princesa City)
Fernandez also stressed that the city government is not withholding the information on the extent of mercury contamination from the public, but was merely being careful not to create panic.
“Iba-iba kasi ang pag-perceive ng mga tao sa iba’t ibang issue. Siyempre, kung malalaman nila agad, hindi natin alam kung papaanong take ang gagawin nila. Pero hindi naman talaga natin tinatago ‘yang issue na ‘yan. Ang gusto nga namin ma-aware yung tao sa kung ano ba talaga ang meron,” he said.
At present, the city government is putting up a perimeter fence around the pit lake in Sta. Lourdes, one of areas determined to be a main source of mercury contamination, as a safety measure.
He added that the city government will start a treatment program for affected residents once funding is available.