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Illegal Small-Scale Mining Operations in ZamboSur Ends

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                       Active tunnel portals being nailed with lumber and chained with padlocks to prevent access to illegal mining activities.

              In a jointly issued Cease and Desist Order (CDO) by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-IX (MGB) and National Commission on Indigenous People-IX (NCIP) served last June 25, 2015, the illegal small-scale mining activities in Barangays Deborok and Lourdes Pagadian City and Barangay Mate of Tigbao Municipality were finally put to an end.  A Team composed of MGB-IX technical personnel from the Mine Management Division headed by its Chief, Engr. Raul B. Calumpang, NCIP representative, Barangay Tanods of the barangays concerned, members of Philippine National Police (PNP) of Pagadian City, military army from the 53rd Infantry Division Tactical Operation based in Guipos Municipality, some media men from 99.3 radio station of Pagadian City and CENRO Officers from Pagadian City, joined forces to effectively implement the said CDO.

On the day of the implementation and upon reaching the entry point of the alleged illegal mining areas, the Team installed tarpaulin bearing the contents of the CDO as well as billboard that served as a warning sign or “Pahimagno” that the areas are prohibited from any mining activity. When the Team arrived in the area where the active tunnels were located, mine workers were nowhere to be found while there were implications that they had only left the place a bit earlier when the Team had arrived. It was also noted that accessory items, tools, equipment and materials to be confiscated or seized presumably used in the commission of the offense were not present.  And out of the 22 tunnels inventoried that were developed by small-scale miners for ore extraction, only 14 were active while 8 were considered abandoned since they were now covered with bushes and shrubs. After the preliminaries, the Team immediately proceeded to the working tunnels and begun nailing lumbers on the portals of the active tunnels and chained them with padlocks to permanently close the tunnels, restrict entry and prevent further mining activities.

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The MGB-IX Team composed of Engr. Raul Calumpang, Engr. Romeo Sta. Cruz, Engr. Edgar Austero, 
Cosme Paye, Mr. Federico Larubis and Mr. Benjamin Sanaani led in the CDO implementation.     

      The issuance of the CDO was initiated by MGB-IX per Memorandum dated April 10, 2015 from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Leo L. Jasareno directing OIC, Regional Director, Alfredo T. Relampagos to respond to the Resolutions No. 003 and 004, Series of 2015 referred by the Pikumpongan Subanen Gataw Tebed Association, Inc. (PSGT) through its Chairman, Timuay Masala Braulio G. Anlimon.  The Resolutions indicated the request for the prompt investigation from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Department of Justice (DOJ), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on the alleged illegal small scale mining at Barangays Deborok and Lourdes, Pagadian City and the cancellation of Industrial Sand and Gravel Permits on the illegal quarrying at Barangays Binayan, Langapod and Bagalupa, all in the Municipality of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, respectively, which according to the appellant, was in clear violation of Section 59 of RA 8371 or otherwise known as the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA).

              Prior to the implementation of the CDO, technical personnel from the MMD of MGB-IX conducted an investigation on May 13, 2015 and had indeed documented the presence of small scale mining activities within the areas and confirmed that a total area of half hectare have been disturbed by the said illegal operations. Their findings also disclosed that gold ores placed in sacks weighing about 40-50 kilograms were transported outside Barangay Lourdes for processing.  It was noted that the areas being operated were within a valid Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) areas, wherein CADT holders claimed that no Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) were granted nor the NCIP have issued any Certificate Precondition for the said mining activities as required under the IPRA law. Moreover, records of the Office of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Province of Zamboanga del Sur revealed that no permit or authority had been issued to any individual miner or cooperative authorizing the conduct of small-scale mining in the areas concerned, making the mining activities illegal and in violation of both the Mining Act and the IPRA Law and their respective implementing rules and regulations, thus a stoppage was highly recommended leading to the issuance of the CDO.

~by Emma Rodelie M. Deverala