Arrests show black sand mining alive
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya— A Chinese miner and eight Filipino workers were arrested for illegal black sand mining in a coastal village in Gonzaga town in Cagayan province on Monday, indicating that the destruction of shores in the province by black sand miners continues.
Senior Supt. Gregorio Lim, Cagayan provincial police director, said Cheng Jian Bin, 23, of Fujian, China, and his Filipino companions were caught preparing to extract black sand in Barangay Baua at 3 a.m. on June 16.
Personnel of the police’s regional public safety battalion swooped down on the mining site and arrested Edward Lee, 56, of Batangas City, and Edward Pajarillo, 34, Marvin Bato, 20, Wester Esquidillo, 30, Kevin Garduque, 20, Warlito Bugaoan, 42, Mark Anthony Japson Bautista, 19, and Alfredo Binondo, 33, all residents of Gonzaga.
The raiding team also seized two pay loaders, two backhoe excavators and five dump trucks, a shotgun and bullets, and other equipment and electronic gadgets that were being used in the mining operations, Lim said.
The Gonzaga police, however, did not identify the company that operated the mining site. The suspects refused to divulge the identity of their employer.
It was not also clear whether the suspects, including the Chinese miner, were detained.
“We have turned them over to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB),” said Senior Insp. Rolly Torres, deputy town police chief of Gonzaga.
Senior Supt. Remus Medina, commander of the police’s regional public safety battalion, said nine other workers, including a Chinese, escaped during the raid.
The arrests belied local officials’ claim that black sand mining had stopped in Gonzaga, said antimining advocate Esperlita Garcia.
“This is clear proof that the lure of material gains [from the mining activity] continued its influence on the [perpetrators], aided by some officials who have been tolerating these operations,” said Garcia, director of Gonzaga Alliance for Environmental Protection and Preservation, a people’s organization.
Outside Baua, black sand extraction also continued in Tapel village, she said.
She said mining operations continued because operators were trying to recover losses from their suspended operations following the death of Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. in April.
“The passage of dump trucks [that haul processed magnetite] to Port Irene [in Santa Ana town] also indicates that mining continues in other nearby towns, contrary to what government officials have been claiming,” she said.
The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Mario Ancheta, MGB regional director in Cagayan Valley, on Monday. His staff said he was in a meeting and his mobile phone had been turned off.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.