Cimatu orders closure of small-scale illegal mining in Cotabato
MANILA, Philippines — Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the closure of an illegal mining operation in Magpet, Cotabato.
The environment chief also directed the filing of charges against those behind the illegal mining activity.
The mine site is located 10 kilometers away from Mt. Apo Natural Park and has not been declared a “minahang bayan” or a common area where small-scale miners are allowed to operate, according to DENR.
“Whether big or small, any illegal mining activity will have to stop,” Cimatu said in a statement on Wednesday.
The closure order stemmed from a joint operation conducted by DENR, its Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Cotabato provincial government, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Barangay Don Panaca last December 7.
Operatives saw no mining activity during the raid but they found a five-meter tunnel indicating recent extraction or mining operation in the area.
They also found inside the tunnel 25 sacks of ore, each sack weighing 90 kilograms. Another sack of the natural rock that contains valuable minerals was discovered near Balingos River. Authorities likewise saw no heavy equipment at the site but seized three shovels and a metal bar during the raid.
“Records from the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board of Cotabato and MGB 12 show that there is no declared Minahang Bayan in the Municipality of Magpet or in the Province of Cotabato, hence, the operation is illegal,” said MGB Region 12 Director Felizardo Gacad Jr.
He also said a formal cease-and-desist order will be issued against the illegal miners and their financiers as criminal charges are likewise being readied against them.
The small-scale mining operation violated Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), as well as RA 7076 or the Peoples Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 and its IRR, according to DENR.
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