THE crackdown against small-scale mining in Benguet will begin October 1 after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Oplan Itogon will identify mine sites targeted for closure.
The National Task Force Mining Challenge (NTFMC) augmented by elements of Philippine Army, Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and the National Bureau of Investigation will operate against non-compliant mine sites.
All persons present at the target mine site, who will be observed to actively in any form of mining activity, will be immediately restrained. If resistance is exhibited, the person will physically be restrained and be brought to the police precinct.
If found to be a hazard, the tunnel will be collapsed using explosives, while entrance of adits in good condition will be closed and blocked. Any equipment and tools found in the area will be confiscated.
A team will also be tasked to prepare filing of cases against the violators or owners of the mining site.
The operation against mining was set after Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered to stop all illegal small-scale mining activities in the Cordillera region during his visit in Benguet last week after a massive landslide hit Barangay Ucab in Itogon on September 15.
Board Member Apolinario Camsol, who chairs the committee on mining, pointed out their committee has yet to act on the matter.
Benguet Provincial Director Lyndon Mencio said the police are ready to implement the closures of small-scale mining.
“If resistance is exhibited, the person will be physically restrained and be brought to the police precinct,” Mencio stressed.
“The implementation of the stoppage order is in compliant with the order by DENR Secretary Cimatu and as enforcers of the law, we will have to abide by the order,” he added.
Meanwhile, Benguet Small Scale Miners Federation president Lomino Kaniteng, who called for a meeting with the members of the federation, said they will appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider the order as it would have a domino effect in the livelihood and future of 88 associations in Benguet Province with 12,000 members coming from Itogon.