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Mayor admits illegal mining in Zamboanga del Sur is a headache

09:59 PM October 03, 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Illegal mining continues in an area covered by a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) in a town of Zamboanga del Sur and local officials admitted they were helpless against it.

Leonardo Babasa Jr., mayor of Bayog town, said he could confirm the continued operations of illegal miners in the town, but blamed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for local officials’ failure to stop it.

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“Illegal mining is still there,” said Babasa. He said while the MGB had issued a cease and desist order (CDO), “how can we enforce the law if we don’t receive any support from the MGB itself?”

“They issued a CDO but there’s no specific guidelines to follow,” said Babasa.

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He admitted that the local government that he heads cannot seek police or military help in enforcing the CDO because the MGB order contained only the words “cease and desist; that’s it.”

The mayor, however, admitted that what is going on is “not just a simple small scale mining.”

“We label it as medium scale,” he said.

The illegal miners, according to Babasa, are encroaching on areas covered by a MPSA belonging to Canadian firm TVI.

He said small scale miners “extract gold ore and these miners don’t remit their mines to the Central Bank.”

“Instead they sell it directly to black market,” he added.

“We really wanted to enforce the law to finally put a stop to this… because the illegal miners don’t have a permit from the local government unit,” said Babasa.

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“In the end the government is on the losing end,” he said.

Just last July, the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board of Zamboanga del Sur denied a petition by a small scale miners’ group called Mossma to have the area that they are operating in declared as “Minahang Bayan.”

The board said in its decision that no area covered by a MPSA can be declared Minahang Bayan.

“Mossma admitted this,” said the board decision, “that the area it applied for is within the MPSA of (Canadian mining firm) TIVRD.” Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: illegal mining, Mining, Zamboanga Sur
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