Ocon, Elipe lock horns anew on mining issue-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
“THERE used to be a mountain there, now it doesn’t exist anymore. I believe mining operations have devastated it.”
This was how Councilor Zaldy Ocon described the plight of the environment of the hinterland barangays of the city plagued by illegal mining activities during his special report at the City Council session on Monday.
Ocon inspected Sitio Balungkot in Barangay Dansolihon and noticed the massive environmental degradation in the village, among its effects -– the flattened mountain.
Ocon, environment and natural resources committee chair, said what happened in the city’s hinterland communities was due to the mining permits issued by former Mayor Vicente Emano.
Emano issued permits to small scale miners, however heavy equipments stationed in the areas like the backhoes, pay loaders including gas tanks have been used in the rampant mining activities.
“The equipments are still there,” he said adding, “Small scale miners can only use piko (pick) and pala (shovel) for human incentives.”
“Didn’t this go through inspection? The 15th City Council favorably approved the application for small-scale mining permits. Why was the chair a remiss (referring to city councilor President Elipe who used to chair the committee on environment and natural resources) on this?” he said.
He added: “He keeps lying on air. Just like Iponan, he said there weren’t barges. These (mining activities) have great ecological destruction.”
Ocon accused Elipe for allegedly being involved in mining citing that a mining company holds office at Elipe’s family’s commercial building in Barangay Carmen. Cekas Development Corporation is renting at the Elipe Park which is owned by Elipe’s brother. It got a mining permit in 2009.
But Elipe has denied any involvement in any mining activities.
“It’s none of my business. Cekas is renting out the space owned by my brother,” he said.
Elipe said that during his stint he had penalized several miners, confiscated heavy equipment and closed mining firms.
“If it is true that I have a mining business, even hauling, I am accepting the challenge if it is proven,” he challenged Ocon.
Elipe said he had not issued any permit during his term as chair of the environment committee since the permits are renewable yearly
“In my three-year stint, I haven’t personally seen any staff or owner of Cekas, because legislation was unnecessary,” Elipe said.
He explained mining companies do not use pick and shovel anymore even if it’s small-scale mining.
He said if a miner cultivates five hectares and more, it’s already large-scale mining and it is the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to give permits.
“I hope this would be the last time. I admit, there is illegal mining, but we’re having a hard time trying to curtail (it),” he said.
Elipe also urged colleagues and challenged Ocon and evenCagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno to refrain from pointing their fingers at him, instead they would focus on making the city’s river clean.
Ocon said the committee would be doing further study about the issue together with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, City Local Environment and Natural Resources officer, and other groups to resolve the problems.
Ocon ended his report by saying he was offered some money to stop tackling mining issues, but he said: “Limpyo kaayo ang atong plato, sabon nga makalilisang, apan ang pagkaon nga gibutang kinawkaw gikan sa katawhan.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 26, 2013.