DENR chief stops foreign vessel from loading chromite in Homonhon

DENR chief stops foreign vessel from loading chromite in Homonhon

Homonhon Island. PHOTO FROM ST. JOHN THE BAPTISH PARISH

By CBCP News

April 6, 2020

Manila, Philippines

A foreign-vessel has been ordered by the country’s environmental body to stop loading chromite ore from Homonhon Island, off Guiuan town in Eastern Samar.

The MV WV Peace cargo vessel arrived in the seawaters of Homonhon on Saturday when Eastern Samar province was under strict quarantine due to the threat of coronavirus.

The vessel is currently anchored off the Pacific Coast, few miles away from the island.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu told the region’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau to temporarily suspend loading work.

In a message to Fr. Christian Ofilan of the St. John the Baprist Parish in Homonhon, Cimatu said the move was a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus.

“I already directed the MGB including the Regional Director to stop all transport of mineral ore from Homonhon Island due to the virus crisis,” Cimatu told Fr. Ofilan.

The priest earlier said that his parishioners are “anxious” over the entry of the vessel manned by a crew of 13 Chinese and four from Myanmar.

The vessel will reportedly load about 7,000 metric tons of chromite ore of the Techiron Mining Company operating on the island.

“This issue has given our people undue anxiety over their safety,” Fr. Ofilan said.

Homonhon parishioners worried over entry of Chinese-manned vessel

Homonhon Island in Guiuan town, Eastern Samar. COURTESY OF FR. CHRISTIAN OFILAN

By CBCP News

April 3, 2020

Borongan City, Eastern Samar

A Catholic priest has raised concern over the scheduled entry of a Chinese-manned vessel on Homonhon Island in Eastern Samar, which has been under lockdown since last week.

The cargo vessel is expected to arrive in Homonhon over the weekend to load an estimated 7,000 metric tons of chromite ores from the mining operations of Techiron Resources Inc.

Fr. Christian Ofilan of the island’s St. John Baptist Parish said that the people are “anxious and concerned” about the entry of the vessel amid the threat of coronavirus spread.

“We have to protect the common good, our health,” Fr. Ofilan said.

“We are appealing to all relevant authorities to temporarily postpone the scheduled loading of minerals here in Homonhon until after this health crisis,” he said.


Once the loading is completed, the foreign vessel will reportedly leave the island in Guiuan town and directly sail to China.

Homonhon is home to around 4,800 people from eight barangays across the island.


Mining operations have been ongoing since the early 1990s on the historic island, where Christian faith first arrived in the Philippines 499 years ago.

The Borongan diocese has also been at the forefront in raising environmental awareness to save the island.

Homonhon is the spot where Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men first landed in the archipelago and took a weeklong respite in 1521.

Some theorists even claim that the first Mass may have been celebrated in the island.

Since March 22, the province has been under at least a month-long “general community quarantine” to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

In a resolution, Gov. Ben Evardone said that “all entries of non-residents to the provincial coastlines, regardless of origins, are hereby prohibited”.

He also tasked concerned agencies to “refuse the entry of any vessel attempting to dock and enter the province through the coastlines”.