BAGUIO CITY, Oct. 17(PIA) -- The Police Regional Office - Cordillera(PRO-Cor) reminds the police force to strictly intensify operations against illegal small scale mining activities in the region as the stoppage order issued by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu last year remains in force.
PRO-Cor Regional Director Police Brigadier General Ephraim Israel Dickson said that the Cordillera police force, in coordination with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) - Department of Environment and Natural Resources, should strengthen their campaign and operation against all illegal small scale mining operations which is still being done covertly.
Recently, the Philippine Military Academy Headquarters Support Group apprehended and brought to the Tuba Municipal Police Station at least four individuals for small scale mining activities at Basa, Camp 6, Camp 4 in Tuba, Benguet while patrolling along the area. At least 30 sacks of gold including mining equipment were also confiscated from the four.
The Itogon Municipal Police Station earlier arrested four individuals who were caught in the act of illegally processing gold at Goldfield, Poblacion, Itogon.
MGB-CAR Mine Management Division Chief Engineer Alfredo Genetiano reported during the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee meeting that technically, there is only one legal small scale mine in the Cordillera region but is not yet in operation and all other small scale mining operation are illegal.
The Benguet Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB) has approved and gave a permit to the Minahang Bayan applied by the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association (Lipma) in Loacan, Itogon. However, the group cannot operate yet since they are still applying for an Environmental Compliance Certificate which will be issued by the DENR, he explained.
MGB Legal Officer Francisco Bilog clarified that police officers do not need to be deputized to conduct operations and even arrest those involved in small scale mining operations since the activities are illegal in nature.
Genetiano, meanwhile, thanked the Cordillera cops and other law enforcement agencies who have been actively conducting activities to monitor and stop operation of illegal small scale mines in the region.
It can be recalled that in September last year, Environment Secretary Cimatu banned small-scale mining activities in Cordillera after a massive landslide triggered by Typhoon Ompong killed more than 100 people, mostly pocket miners, in Itogon.
The National Task Force Mining Challenge composed of PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement, government agencies and even local government units had been established to crackdown illegal mining operations. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)