By Serafin N. Ramos Jr.
MAITUM, Sarangani (July 21, 2010) – Joint Philippine Army and police operatives arrested on Tuesday (July 20) 20 suspects allegedly engaged in illegal mining activities in an ancestral domain and protected area near the famous whitewater river-tubing resort in barangay New La Union.
Cesar Tayan Sr., a watchman of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, said he joined the police Regional Mobile Group and the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion in going to sitio Kaffugan, New La Union “to verify reports that there were around 37 men mining the area for gold.”
“We arrived at the mining site at around 8:32 AM where I saw shelters and bunkers, destruction and clearing of forest area, 11 tunnels, and 414 sacks containing mineral ores,” Tayan disclosed. “I also took pictures of the 20 men who were apprehended in the mining site and their tools and implements.”
Arrested were Eddie Penona, 36, from Bukidnon; Joseph Leo, 23, from Butuan City; Argie Toribillas, 21, from Panabo City; Darin Loseno, 21, from Maramag, Bukidnon;
Nelson Lacre, 18; Jeffrey Magno, 22; Ramil Legara, 18; Lito Malbasias, 29, all from Compostela Valley;
Martin Barosa, 54; John Dayan, 26; Diosdado Almoite, 48; Junior Bulahan, 29; Bobby Navales, 34; Victor Mauricio, 30; Allan Baliwan, 33; Jose Garuna, 38; Jun Cortez, 28, all of barangay Suli, Kiamba; and Arnold Diwan, 26, and Jun Codenera, 30, of Poblacion Kiamba, and Gerald Juares, 21, of barangay Kalaong, Maitum.
According to Police Inspector Celso Supli Suelo, police and army troops recovered from the suspects six pieces of hammer (maso), two axes, three iron bars (bareta), five shovels, one chainsaw, two chainsaw guide bars, and five kilos of rocks while the rest, around 400 sacks, were left in the mining site.
Mayor Elsie Perrett, a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) holder of Manobo-Tboli Ancestral Domain, has a certification from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office that the apprehended persons were not registered miners.
The mayor said she was filing a “criminal action” against the suspects “for lack of registration as small-scale miners under Section 8, RA 7076”, or the People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991.
Another charge against the suspects was for Cutting, Gathering, Collecting, Removing, Possessing timber and other forest products (Section 68 of PD 705 as amended by EO 277), Mayor Perrett said.
“(There is) a certification from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office showing that they have not issued any small-scale mining contract to any person to conduct small-scale mining in New La Union, Maitum, Sarangani Province,” Perrett said.
In addition, there is a certification from the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples showing that it has not issued any Free Prior and Informed Consent or any permit to enter or mine any portion of the ancestral domain located in sitio Kaffugan, New La Union, the mayor said.
Perrett was also set to file a criminal action for Unauthorized and Unlawful Intrusion and Use of the Manobo-T’boli Ancestral Domain (Section 10 of RA 8371) against the detained persons.
In an affidavit, PO2 Pedro A. Malupeng Jr. said his team conducted an ocular inspection on the alleged mining activity in sitio Kaffugan on July 20.
Malupeng said they checked “where the sound of a chainsaw was coming from” and “saw a man cutting a felled tree.”
“The man told me that his name is Jojo and he is a resident of Sitio Banate. Thereafter, I brought him to a clearing near the bunkers and confiscated his chainsaw,” Malupeng said. (Serafin N. Ramos Jr./SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)