New crackdown on illegal mining

Major government move blocks 20 companies

Cong B. Corrales, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

October 17, 2012

The government's environment office has canceled a number of environmental compliance certificates, effectively barring 20 companies allegedly involved in illegal mining in and around Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao. The decision, announced today, was hailed by a coalition of environment advocates who say the certificates were fraudulently used in illegal acts. Ruth Tawantawan, regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said a "technical evaluation" by the office confirmed that dredging barges covered by the certificates were used for the illegal extraction of gold and other minerals. "We are happy that [the environment office] has found out the truth," said Orlando Ravanera, head of the environment coalition Sulog. He added that those involved should be arrested. The evaluation also showed that 20 gravel and sand concessionaires were not only mining illegally but also did not have permits from the Mining Regulatory Board. The same investigation discovered that illegal mining operations in upland villages had been going on since 1994. "Let justice be done. We should stop the bleeding, then heal and restore,” said Tito Mora, a member of Sulog. He said mining operations "figured in the catastrophic effects" of tropical storm Washi last December that caused floods that killed at least 1,268 people. Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan last week called for a halt to all mining activities in the city’s watershed areas. “We need an impact assessment on mining and logging, including large scale upland plantations, on environmentally fragile areas,” the prelate told a gathering of anti-mining activists. Archbishop Ledesma reminded people to “treasure gratefully God’s gift of our natural resources, to be vigilant stewards of the environment and to initiate conservation practices.” Related reports Company fighting case in media: lawyers Don’t vote for pro-mine candidates, Catholics told