539 mine tun­nels closed

Sun.Star Baguio - - Front Page - Lau­ren Alimondo Sun*Star Re­porter

AF­TER two days, ‘Op­er­a­tion Ito­gon’ of the Na­tional Task Force Min­ing Chal­lenge (NTFMC) has al­ready closed 539 tun­nels in Ito­gon.

Ralph Pablo, re­gional direc­tor of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR)-in the Cordilleras dis­closed at least 335 ball mills were cor­doned, 33 kilo­grams of cyanide seized, and 64,214 sacks of es­ti­mated min­eral ore ob­tained.

“In our in­ven­tory we have more than 1,000 tun­nels in

Ito­gon,” says Pablo.

Pablo added teams de­ployed as part of the Op­er­a­tion Ito­gon have closed ac­tive tun­nels with sig­nage of mine clo­sure put up and yel­low line cor­doned in the en­try points. This is a dif­fer­ent op­er­a­tion as com­pared to last Fe­bru­ary, be­cause of the na­ture of the area which is highly sus­cep­ti­ble to land­slide, we did not blast any adits,” stated Pablo.

NTFMC, com­prised of more than 300 in­di­vid­u­als from the en­vi­ron­ment agency, Armed Forces and the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice in­clud­ing the per­son­nel of Benguet Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive (Beneco) tasked to stop the min­ing op­er­a­tions in view of DENR Sec­re­tary of Roy Ci­matu stop­page or­der of il­le­gal min­ing op­er­a­tion in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the whole Cordillera re­gion.

NTFMC fo­cal per­son and DENR As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Marc Fra­gada sees the dis­con­nec­tion of ball mills and min­ing tun­nels as the best means of stop­ping small scale min­ing op­er­a­tions.

“There are con­sid­er­a­tions we have dis­cussed, even blast­ing, para hindi na bu­ma­lik, but the prob­lem is be­cause of the geo-haz­ard sit­u­a­tion, the in­tegrity of the land al­ready de­stroyed, we are try­ing to con­sider what is the best pos­si­ble way,” says Fra­gada.

En­gi­neer Mel­chor Li­coben of Beneco said their teams were able to record at least 366 il­le­gal or fly­ing con­nec­tions.

On Oc­to­ber 7, 212 were dis­cov­ered which com­prised of 122 ball mills and 90 adits. This was fol­lowed by 105 dis­con­nected por­tals and 49 ball mills on Oc­to­ber 8.

“Kung min­san may nag-ap­ply sasabi­hin ang susu­playan ng metro na ito iy­ong ba­hay ko, but over the years or in the process, nag­palit siya, in this par­tic­u­lar case, iy­ong por­tal or ball mill. lt was not part of the orig­i­nal con­nec­tion kaya ang term namin fly­ing con­nec­tion,” Li­coben stated.

Pablo added three were ap­pre­hended caught milling ore prompt­ing the agency to im­me­di­ately file case in the prose­cu­tor’s of­fice.

Cases of vi­o­la­tion of Sec. 55 of RA 7942, RA7076 and PD 1586 were filed against Mar­lon Bug­tay, 55, Rolando Palang­dan, 43 and Ar­nel Palang­dan, 38, all res­i­dents of barangay Tud­ing in Ito­gon.

The sus­pects posted bail and was re­leased af­ter the vice-ex­ec­u­tive Judge signed the re­lease or­der and re­duce their bail to P16,000 each.

An­other ap­pre­hen­sion was recorded with three ar­rested sus­pects namely, Daniel Naboye, 22, Ricky Pan­gaten 28, Adam Ngo­lab,20 all min­ers and res­i­dents of Tram Ucab.

Photo by Jean Nicole Cortes

NO EN­TRY. Ito­gon cops and barangay of­fi­cials check on a small-scale min­ing tun­nel be­fore clos­ing to pre­vent min­ers from en­ter­ing the adits.

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