TASK Force Kinaiyahan announced Thursday afternoon, March 16, the confiscation of six mining equipment operating between Tuburan village, Cagayan de Oro City, and Opol town, Misamis Oriental.
City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) chief Edwin Dael said five of these mining equipment are big enough to damage hectares of land.
Dael said operators of these equipment were already gone before they arrived in the area.
He said the mining site is difficult to access noting that they needed to cross several rivers before getting there.
“Maguol gyud ka sa damage sa bukid kay imagine unom ka makina, lima ani mga dagko kaayo nga mga mining equipment ug is aka gamay, mga 24 horse power gyud ni iyang strength pero at least gyud nga atong na-realize (If you look at the damage they caused, you can't help but worry, imagine there were six equipment and five of these are so big and has 24 horse power capacity),” Dael said.
The Clenro chief said they have been monitoring the area since the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary of Legal Affairs Maria Paz Luna visited and rode a chopper to observe the area.
“We conducted more surveillance and validated that this is indeed illegal mining operators, so we walked the area and found the equipment,” he added.
These operators might be operating for quite some time now, considering the deep holes they have dug and the trees they cut, he said.
Dael said they will continue to conduct surveillance in this area and nearby areas to assure that these operators will not come back.
Although 80 percent of the mining operations in the city have lessened, Dael admitted that there are still about 20 percent who continue to practice destructive mining.
Dael said they are also observing two more areas where possible illegal mining operators still operate.
Earlier this month, the House Committee on Natural Resources approved House Bill 4799 declaring Cagayan de Oro a mining-free zone to protect local residents and the environment for the adverse effects of mining, a move which the Clenro team welcomed.
Dael urged the Commission on Appointments to confirm DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, who is also a staunch critic of illegal and irresponsible mining.
“We really hope this becomes a law immediately so that we can impose more strictly the existing laws, and possibly impose higher penalties for violators,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 18, 2017.