P6-M worth mining equipment seized

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014


THE Cagayan de Oro City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) confiscated mining equipment worth some P6 million during an operation conducted by a composite team of government agencies on Monday.

After receiving a tip from an informant that backhoes allegedly used for mining are operating in Barangays Tumpagon in Cagayan de Oro City and Kauyonan in Opol town, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Northern Mindanao, through Regional Director Rex Monsanto, called for a meeting to launch operations in the area.

On January 2, Clenro received a tip about barrels of diesel gas being transported to the hinterland communities.

The agencies involved in the operation were the MGB-Northern Mindanao, Community Investigative Support–Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIS-CIDG), and the Philippine National Police–Public Safety Battalion (PNP-PSB) in the region.

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Sulog: One Sendong is Enough, a non-government organization and environment advocate based in the region, was also present during the raid.

As a result of the meeting, the group decided to initiate the raid early morning of January 6.

“We started the operation around 5 a.m. in the morning last Monday,” said Edwin Dael, chief of Clenro.

Dael said they divided the big group into three teams, and they were assigned in the villages of Tumpagon, Kauyonan, and Mainit in Iligan city.

He added that the team headed by Monsanto nabbed two backhoes with an estimated price of P3 million to P5 million each, and 10 water pumps that cost around P8,000 each.

Ralph Abragan, vice chairman of Sulog, added that the backhoes’ brands are Hitachi and Hyundai.

Dael said the backhoes and 10 water pumps were seized at sitio Looc, Mainit, while the other four pumps were confiscated at Tumpagon and Kauyonan.

The mining equipment units, which were allegedly used for illegal mining operations in the hinterlands, are believed to be owned by Wintech, which is based in Iligan City.

However, Dael said it is possible that the mining operators were just renting the equipment from the said company.

He said the operation also confiscated around a hundred meters of expensive suction hoses.

Due to the discovery of the alleged illegal mining operations, Dael said Clenro will try to request the city’s mining regulatory board to create an ordinance to address the problem of illegal mining in the hinterlands.

“The City Council should come up with an ordinance that regulates the transportation of water pumps and huge amount of diesel gas in the hinterlands,” said Dael.

He added that the equipment like water pumps should undergo inspection before transporting them to the hinterlands.

Dael said it is also possible to pass an ordinance that will require a permit from the city’s agriculture office before such equipment can be transported.

He said they are set to talk with petroleum suppliers to explore options on how to regulate the supply of diesel gas for illegal mining operations in the upland areas.

Dael said Cagayan de Oro is a convenient entry point of illegal mining operators to the mountains.

“If they (illegal mining operators) will set foot in Iligan City to the hinterlands, they will have to spend more,” he said.

Monsanto, in a local television interview, said the MGB will study if the equipment caught were allegedly used for mining operations is illegal or not.

Dael said the backhoes are now under the custody of the village officials in Mainit. (Anjo J. Bacarisas)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 08, 2014.

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