Cops seize illegal mining equipment in Misamis Oriental-A A +A
Friday, August 10, 2012
THE government’s campaign against illegal mining has taken another step after police operatives confiscated four 24-horsepower hydraulic machines and 200-meter water pipe used for hydraulic mining during a joint operation along Iponan River Friday morning.
The operation was jointly conducted by forces of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office’s (COPC) Public Safety Company, Lumbia Police Station, and Opol Municipal Police Station.
Police Senior Inspector Ericson Sabanal, station commander of Lumbia Police Station, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that the operation was conducted at Sitio Inapasan in Barangay Bagocboc, Opol town in Misamis Oriental around 9 a.m.
Sabanal, however, said they failed to arrest the operators or owners of the mining equipment.
“Illegal miners have a spotter so they were able to escape easily, leaving their illegal mining equipment,” he said.
But Sabanal said they were able to gather information, particularly the names of the alleged operators and owners of the confiscated equipment.
“We still have to verify as to the authenticity of these 10 personalities because it would be hard for us to assume,” he said.
The alleged owner of the seized equipment is from Lingating in Bukidnon.
However, Sabanal refused to provide the owner’s name pending their ongoing investigation.
“The equipment are now under our custody but we will turn these over to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB),” Sabanal said.
He said this is to prevent them being involved in a “swapping issue” again.
Earlier, a self-confessed illegal miner in Opol town claimed he was able to swap his defective mining equipment for another one that is in good condition so he “could continue with his operations.”
“I have two mining equipment, one defective and the other one still in good condition. But police operatives seized the one which is still good during an operation so I swapped it,” the miner said, who is identified only as a certain “Allan.”
At least 18 illegal mining equipments have already been confiscated by Lumbia police operatives since they started their campaign last May 5.
Sabanal said the operation was held in response to the directive of Philippine National Police (PNP) Northern Mindanao Director Gil J. Hitosis as per order by President Benigno Aquino for an all-out campaign against environmental violators in the region.
Similarly, joint operations of the police, MGB, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also resulted in the apprehension of one large scale dredger operating in Barangay Pagalungan, Cagayan de Oro last Wednesday.
However, the owner of the dredger was able to produce a special permit issued by the City Government.
But members of environmental watchdog Task Force Save Iponan River (TF-SIR) criticized the City Government for issuing the “special permit” and for only doing this now.
Meanwhile, in a community-based survey conducted by a team from Balsa Mindanao, the group was able to find out four cases of skin and lung-related diseases in river-lying villages of San Simon and Pagatpat in Cagayan de Oro, where dredging facilities is currently operating.
But Rev. Emma Catubig, a woman church minister of Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Barangay Iponan and convenor of the multi-sectoral coalition, said the local government unit in the affected areas did not bother to check the claim.
“What took them so long? Even before Sendong, this has been our clamor. Now, local partisan electoral circus is already dragging the issue again and again at the expense of the people. After a few months, will the culprits be jailed or we will be back again to ‘normal?’ We are tired of witnessing another ‘moro-moro.’ In the past, agencies always put the blame on traditional miners while giving special permit to large scale miners. We hope this time is not artificial,” Rev. Catubig, said in a statement.
Datu Jomorito Guaynon of the regional indigenous group Kalumbay pointed out that local program and policies governing mining sounds the same tune to Aquino’s Executive Order 79 (EO 79), “which only favors the so-called responsible miners -- foreign and large scale giants,” while killing the community and cooperative based traditional miners.
“We are on guard. We shall mobilize our organized forces and our constituents and as many people towards expressing our call to save our rivers and to stop the contributors of its destruction, primarily large-scale mining, foreign agro-plantations and others. We shall link with all like-minded individuals, institutions and organizations to pursue the same interest” Guaynon said in a statement.
Task Force Save Iponan River is a multi-sectoral coalition comprising of 10 barangays, both upland and lowland, along Iponan River. It is mainly composed of lumad (indigenous people), Tropical Storm Sendong survivors, farmers and residents who get their support from ecumenical churches and institutions.
The group had already gathered hundreds of signatures to campaign against the presence of dredging and mining operations in the area.
On August 25, the Church will spearhead a “tree-growing and education concert” in Barangays San Simon and Bulua as part of the campaign where thousands are expected to participate.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 11, 2012.