Latest Stories

Crisscrossing tunnels found in Paracale

By ,

A BOY plays with a banca in Barangay Palanas, a seaside mining community, in Paracale, Camarines Norte, seemingly oblivious of the mining disaster and retrieval operation in one of the thatched structures that house mining pits behind him. JONAS CABILES SOLTES/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON

LEGAZPI CITY—Unabated diggings of crisscrossing tunnels by miners seeking gold ore deposits in Paracale, Labo and Jose Panganiban in Camarines Norte are invitations to major disasters during extreme weather conditions, said Gilbert Gonzales, regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Gonzales said during an interview that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) was still counting the crisscrossing tunnels, including abandoned ones, made by small-scale mining operations. “The data would give us an in-depth study on the dangers posed by the mining operations in the three mining towns,” he said.

Lydia Burburan, DENR Ecosystem Research and Development Services Regional Technical Director, said miners had dug up crisscrossing tunnels ranging from 25 to 100 meters in vertical and horizontal mining shafts. These were discovered during an assessment of small-scale mining operations in the three mining towns in Camarines Norte.

She said the presence of this type of tunnels is a major issue that needs to be addressed by the DENR and provincial local executives. She said small-scale mining operations in the three towns produce 50 tons of gold yearly.

In Paracale, the body of small-scale miner Julian Cabaruvia, 22, floated up a mining pit on Thursday afternoon while another body was also sighted in the same pit that same day in the seaside village of Palanas, just 2 kilometers from the town proper here, the Camarines Norte police said on Friday.

The retrieval of Cabaruvia’s body from a pit around 7 meters away from where a blast was initially reported to have occurred on Wednesday bolstered suggestions that the blast could have pierced neighboring pits submerged in seawater, said Senen Inocalla, administrative aide of Paracale Mayor Romeo Moreno.

As of Friday, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council placed the death toll at three due to the mining accident. The three were Cabaruvia, Luis Policarpio, 33, and Carlo Delos Santos, 27.

Authorities, however, believe more bodies could be trapped amid the rubble and debris that may have prevented bodies from floating up.


Inocalla said rescuers have yet to explore and clear up the area where the accident happened but the municipal government had already asked help from the regional office of civil defense, which sent a team of nine, including technical divers, to oversee the operation on Thursday night.

“The retrieval operation has been hampered by lack of divers and by obstructions, including wood with nails and rock-filled sacks, which were making it almost impossible to go down the mining pits,” she said.

Authorities deemed at least seven mining pits were affected by the blast. The seven were among at least a hundred mining pits, with some exceeding depths of 20 meters, in the seaside community.

She said the local church has  offered help to the municipal government.

Although out of town on an official trip, Moreno had given instructions to continue with the retrieval operation until all bodies were found, she added. Moreno had been criticized for leaving despite an ongoing retrieval operation.

The MGB on Thursday  ordered the total dismantling of the structures in the mine site and urged the enforcement  of a cease-and-desist order earlier issued by local authorities.

Gonzales said there was an order to close down all small-scale mining operations in coastal areas following a “no-mining order” issued by the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to local governments.

He said his office has no hand in the issuance of small-scale mining permits as it is the domain of the provincial government under the Local Government Code.

No one knew the whereabouts of mining financier Agosto Jordan, who allegedly owns the pit where the blast occurred.

Inocalla said because of the accident, the municipal government was bent on stopping all small-scale mining operations in the municipality and the eviction of all miners illegally operating in Palanas and its neighboring village of Malaguit.

“But we anticipate that the move would cripple the already failing economy of Paracale that is heavily dependent on mining,” she said.

Inocalla said  high-grade gold ore deposits in the seaside community has lured townsfolk to the area.

Gov. Edgardo Tallado said  the provincial government has been helpless in stopping illegal mining in Paracale because miners keep on returning despite cease-and-desist orders.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Camarines Norte , disaster , Labo , Mining , Paracale

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  8. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  9. Two Popes who would be saints
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace