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Nueva Vizcaya execs tagged in illegal mining

By Melvin Gascon
Inquirer Northern Luzon
First Posted 22:37:00 02/10/2011

Filed Under: Mining and quarrying, Graft & Corruption, Regional authorities

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines?Illegal mining in a remote village in upland Kasibu town has continued to thrive due to the alleged tolerance of top provincial officials, Inquirer sources and documents have revealed.

The illegal extraction and transport of copper ore from Alimit village was covered by permits issued by the provincial government, through its environment and natural resources office (Enro), according to informants, who asked not to be named to ensure their security.

The officials have supposedly gone to the extent of legalizing the transport of mine tailings, known in the dialect as luyot, because these are profitable, said a source, who used to traffic in illicit mine operations.

Vice Gov. Jose Gambito has denied these allegations. He said the provincial government allowed the miners to ship out their mine tailings for ?humanitarian reasons,? as small-scale mining is their only source of livelihood.

Documents obtained by the Inquirer showed that the provincial government, through a directive from Gov. Luisa Cuaresma to Gambito, has been issuing ?ore transport permits? to allow the shipping of mine tailings out of the province.

The illegal miners were being allowed to extract gold and copper ore from their tunnels even without a small-scale mining permit from the provincial government, for as long as they pay fees to Enro personnel, the Inquirer source said.

The illegal trade reportedly started in August last year and began to peak in October, with an average of 10 trucks of ore leaving Alimit every day.

With operations entering the sixth month, it is estimated that about 1,500 shipments have left the area since late September, or a total volume of about 7,500 tons, the source said.

The source released copies of official receipts issued by the provincial treasury, which suggested that shipments of mine tailings were being charged a mineral tax of 40 centavos a kilo, or P10,000 for 25,000 kilos.

?This would mean that while P45,000 was collected for every five-ton shipment, only P2,000 goes to government coffers,? the source said.

Sought for comment, the officials denied receiving shares from the collections in the luyot trade.

Gambito said the excess of what Enro personnel had been collecting for the issuance of permits was spent for food and other provisions of inspectors and policemen manning the checkpoints set up near the mining site.



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