Over 200 individuals likely to face court over illegal mining activities in Agusan del Sur

Marje Pelayo   •   December 5, 2018   •   1955


Entrance to an illegal mining site in Agusan del Sur


AGUSAN DEL SUR, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is planning to file charges against operators of an illegal mining site in Barangay Consuelo in the municipal town of Rosario.

Recently, a team composed of representatives from the DENR Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), inspected the site.

The operation was intended to demolish all 12 illegal small-scale mining sites in the area.

The DENR said risk of soil erosion is high in the area because the ground is overly saturated.

“Ang mga area na dito ay delikado na po. Nanganganib na magkaroon ng landslide dahil po ang ground stability po ng area ay humina na po dahil sa dami ng hukay na isinasagawa dito sa ilalim,” said DENR-Caraga spokesperson, Herzon Gallego.

It was the second time that the DENR held an operation in an attempt to close the mining sites.

The DENR ordered closure of the illegal mining sites in Barangay Consuelo in June following the issuance of a cease and desist order from the Agusan del Sur government due to lack of environmental compliant permit.

But the operation on Monday (December 3) was deferred after angry residents blocked the operating team from striking down the structures. Authorities decided to postpone the operation to prevent chaos.

“Ini-explain namin ang aming objective pero hindi po sila nakinig. Tinutulan nila. Sa nakikita naming situation, baka magkagulo at maraming mamatay. Minabuti na mag cool down; dadaanin nalang siguro sa kaso,” explained Gallego.

The DENR revealed that miners are able to dig up to 20 kilograms of gold each month form the mining sites. This volume is equivalent to P7 million  in monetary value. This is the reason why the residents are adamant against the closure.

But the DENR clarified that the demolition of the mining sites does not mean the residents will be driven away from their homes.

“Layunin ng gobyerno na ma proteksyunan lang ang mga tao pero wala pong inuutos na palayasin ang mga tao doon. Sa area na maapektuhan, iyon lang po ang sinabihan ng MGB sa barangay captain (na umalis),” Gallego said.

Small-scale mining is allowed under the Philippine Mining Act but with certain provisions.

Because of the massive resistance from the miners, the DENR is now drafting a case to file against them for violations.

“Theft siguro dahil ninanakaw nila ang resources natin na walang pahintulot sa gobyerno. Hindi sila nagbabayad ng tax (so) tax evasion. Marami pong mga possibilities na paglabag sa batas na pinag aaralan po ng ating mga lawyers,” noted Gallego.

Meanwhile, agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are willing to provide an alternative source of income to miners and their families who are likely to be affected by the mining closure. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Raymond Octobre)

Young NPA fighter thankful for being saved by the ‘enemy’

Marje Pelayo   •   November 6, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Rebel combatant alias ‘Kent’ was lost for words over his experience in the hands of his “enemies” – the soldiers of the 29th Infantry Battalion – after an encounter in San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan del Norte.

‘Kent’ sustained three gunshot wounds during the crossfire on November 2.

The soldiers captured him as he could no longer walk due to his injury.

He thought that was the end for him.

“Naka-set na sa isip ko na papatayin ako talaga kasi susuko (I set my mind that I would be killed if I surrender),” he said in his local dialect.

“Ang sabi nila kapag may giyera, papatayin ka kapag nahuli ka ng Army (They say in war, you will be killed if the Army captures you),” he added.

But to his surprise, the soldiers brought him to a nearby hospital and while gasping for air, he heard the soldiers telling him to hold on and try to survive.

The young NPA fighter is now recovering from his wound while the military is working on the possible assistance he may receive once he officially decommissions from the rebel group.

“Ang una nating ginagawa ngayon ay maka recover muna siya (What we are focusing on first is his recovery),” said Maj. Francisco Garelllo, the spokesperson of the 402 Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army who handles the case of alias Kent.

‘Kent’ was recruited to the New People’s Army (NPA) when he was only 16 years old.

He realized he spent his two years fighting for the wrong side.

He said he has decided to return to the government and start a new life with his family.

 “Sinasabi naman nila sa akin na, ‘Dapat mabuhay ka kasi sisikapin naming mabuhay ka,’” Kent said of the soldiers who rescued him.

“Kaya pinilit ko ring maka-survive,” he concluded. – MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

DENR to check rivers for coliform content amid polio outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019

Filipino residents cross a hanging bridge along the polluted water of Pasig river in Manila, Philippines, 31 May 2018 (issued on 04 June 2018). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct testing of water samples from all rivers across the country amid the ongoing outbreak of poliovirus.

The test is to determine the quality of and coliform content in the country’s bodies of water after water samples from the sewerage system in Tondo, Manila and Davao city tested positive of poliovirus.

According to DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered all its regional offices to submit the results as soon as possible.

“Hahanapin namin ang mga pipes na nagtatapon sa mga rivers para masiguro natin na hindi na madagdagan pa ang polusyon ng river (We will trace the pipes that discharge directly into the rivers to make sure that pollution level in our rivers will not escalate),” Antiporda said. – MNP (with details from Grace Casin)

Deer head seized at Manila Port, handed over to DENR

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) turned over on Tuesday (September 24) to the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) a piece of deer head smuggled into the Philippines without the necessary import permit.

The BOC said the deer head was discovered inside a parcel declared as household goods and personal effects that arrived at the Manila International Container Port on July 12, 2019 from Guam.

The subject good was seized for violation of Sections 11 and 27 of Republic Act No. 9147 otherwise known as Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and Section 117 in relation to Section 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.


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