SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur—Six Chinese nationals were arrested on Saturday night for their alleged involvement in an illegal mining operation that destroyed the waterways of a river in a remote village of this town near the Mt. Magdiwata watershed.
Police could not yet ascertain the identities of the suspects since only two of them presented identification cards from the Bureau of Immigration that expired in May this year.
Another Chinese national, known as Jason Lu, believed to be the “big boss” and cofinancier, managed to escape.
Two local residents, who worked with them, positively tagged the suspects, now detained at the town jail, after they accompanied the police to raid their residence at the town center.
Local police chief Senior Inspector Ephraim Detuya said they would file today formal charges against the Chinese nationals for violation of the Mining Act, while awaiting information about their status in staying in the country from the Bureau of Immigration.
The arrest came after a two-day raid by a joint team of police and staff members of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office at the illegal mine site in Barangay (village) Mati that caused the contamination and depletion of the source of potable water and irrigation for rice fields in nearby Barangay Maligaya.
The team confiscated a backhoe used to excavate and destroy the riverbed and banks, a power-generating set, steel pipes used to suction water, sand and gravel toward the mine tailings pond, and other mining equipment.
The suspects managed to scamper away during the raid but the two Filipino workers cooperated with investigators to pinpoint their whereabouts.
Located a kilometer away from the Magdiwata watershed, the 24-hour mining activities, which started almost a month ago, had damaged the riverbanks as the Chinese miners dug up the area with backhoes to follow the gold vein.
A security guard, whose identity police have withheld pending investigation, said a Chinese chemist used a pinkish liquid that could separate the gold from other minerals while being processed at the tailings pond. The chemical is said to be imported from China.
The guard disclosed that the mining operation was intensified after it produced at least 100 grams of gold a day. Chris V. Panganiban, Inquirer Mindanao