By Ali G. Macabalang
MAGPET, North Cotabato
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the closure of an illegal mining operation in this town, directing also the filing of appropriate charges against those involved in the crime.
The site of illegal mining is located at Barangay Don Panaca here about 10 kilometers away from Mt. Apo Natural Park, the country’s highest peak where all forms of mining is prohibited.
“Whether big or small, any illegal mining activity will have to stop,” Sec. Cimatu said in a statement on Dec. 9.
Cimatu’s statement cum order came two days after a joint operation conducted by DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Cotabato provincial government, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the site.
Operatives saw no mining activity during the Dec. 7 raid but they found a five-meter tunnel indicating recent mining or extraction operation in the area, a published report said.
They also found inside the tunnel 25 sacks of ore, each sack weighing 90 kilograms. Another sack of the natural rock that contains valuable minerals was discovered near Balingos River. Authorities likewise saw no heavy equipment at the site but seized three shovels and a metal bar during the raid, the report said.
“Records at the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board of Cotabato and MGB 12 show… no declared Minahang Bayan in the Municipality of Magpet or in the Province of Cotabato, hence, the operation is illegal,” MGB Region 12 Director Felizardo Gacad Jr. was quoted as saying in the report.
Gacad said a formal cease-and-desist order will be issued against the illegal miners and their financiers as criminal charges were likewise being readied against them for violation of R.A. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 as well as RA 7076 or the Peoples Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 and its IRR.
The DENR did not identify any group or persons involved in the just-detected illegal mining activity. (AGM)