AT LEAST six were collared by police during the first week of small-scale mining crackdown in Itogon, Benguet.
Senior inspector Heherson Zambale, Chief of the Itogon Municipal Police disclosed six persons were arrested barangays Poblacion and Tuding caught operating gold processing facility.
Following the cease and desist order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), “Oplan Itogon” states after target selection of mine sites for closure, the National Task Force Mining Challenge (NTFMC) through the Philippine Army, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation will operate against non-compliant mine sites.
The arrested miners may face violation of Section 55 of RA 9274 Philippine Clean Water Act, RA 7076 Peoples SSM Act of 1991 and Presidential Decree1586 known as the Environmental Impact Assessment Law.
The cease and desist order in the whole Cordillera region was issued in Benguet by DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu following the landslide which occurred at Level 070 in Ucab, Itogon on September 15 during the onslaught rains brought by typhoon Ompong.
Mass casualties include small scale miners of Benguet Corporation’s old abandoned bunkhouse.
In his visit to Baguio City, DENR Assistant Secretary Marc Fragada, focal person of NTFMC Itogon said considering the pronouncement of the president and environment secretary regarding the issues of Itogon, he seeks to expedite the declaration of Minahang Bayan to convince small scale miners to legalize their operations covered with strict guidelines and procedures.
In the province of Abra, Governor Jocelyn Bernos wants mining operation in the province to stop its operations this after releasing an executive order 11 s. 2018 stopping all SSM activities and all related activities in the province.
The governor ordered the DENR-Abra, Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO), Armed Forces and Philippine National Police to implement the order.
Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners had previously appealed for the national government to lift the stoppage order as SSM remain as main livelihood and second economic driver with 20,000 miners present.