Palanas, a gold district in Paracale notorious for its illegal gold mining operations where 48 miners reportedly died recently as a result of accidents. – MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ
DAET, CamNorte: Congressman Renato “Jojo” Unico, who has jurisdiction over the mining towns in CamNorte, finally broke his silence on the hot issue of illegal mining in the province.
During his weekend visit here, Unico said that he strongly supports the on-going investigation initiated by the joint agencies led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the alleged involvement of CamNorte Gov Edgardo A Tallado in the irregular issuance of “small scale mining permit” to big foreign mining operators in the traditional mining town of Paracale.
Unico blamed Tallado for the plight of small scale miners numbering several thousands who can now only mine areas that were declared geographically hazardous by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-DENR) like the coastal village of Palanas, Paracale, where scores of miners have already died in mine pits
In June 30 another two miners drowned inside mining pits in sitio Maligaya, barangay Palanas .
Unico accused Tallado of issuing “small scale mining permits”, to large scale operations of foreign mining firms both in Paracale and Jose Panganiban towns, while neglecting to identify safe mining areas for small miners as should have been done under the “Minahang-bayan” program of the national government.
The congressman stressed that the current cease and desist order of the MGB-DENR to stop small-scale mining in Palanas, Paracale is a consequence of such neglect. Over 3,000 small miners have lost income as a result of the stoppage order.
Unico also said the mismanagement of small-scale mining sites by the provincial government has now resulted in about 48 deaths in Paracale alone, alleging further that “most of the deaths were being covered-up by mining operators”.
He added that he also likes the joint probe conducted by the DILG, MGB-DENR and the Customs Bureau to uncover the environmental abuse committed by foreign financed mining firms whose questionable activities have resulted in the destruction of over 50ha of coral reefs in Pulandaga barangay Bagumbayan in Paracale.
Unico further criticized the provincial government for allowing those firms that were issued, “small scale mining permits” to use dynamite and plastic explosives by in spite of the ongoing joint investigation.
In Paracale town, despite a desist order issued by the MGB-DENR last June 15, on joint Chinese and Fil-Chinese firms “Uni-Dragon” and “Baotong Mining Corp”, a Chinese vessel from Hong Kong, the “Peace Angel,” continued to be anchored near Pulandaga ready to haul some 55,000 metric-tons of magnetic sand, estimated to worth P300 million pesos.
This was revealed by Paracale Tourism officer Jamela Evangelista Enova, who is monitoring the mining abuse in Paracale.
Since the arrival of the vessel last June 3, concerned groups led by “Save Pulandaga Movement” (SPDM) have staged People power demonstrations to prevent the mining firms from hauling the stock-pile of magnetic-sand.
Enova said that MGB has provided documents showing that Uni-Dragon and Baotong mining were only issued exploration permit to gather samples of magnetic sand since 2008.
Despite the limitation provided by MGB under the exploration permit, the Chinese mining firms have engaged in large scale mining operations, extracting big volumes of magnetic-sand (IRON-ORE) by virtue of the “small scale permit” issued by the Governor, Enova claims.
Using heavy mining equipment, Uni Dragon and Baotong have dumped large volume of wastes on coral reefs in Pulandaga shores, causing outrage among local residents, Enova said.
According to Enova, Pulandaga is the only coastal locality that may be considered a tourist resort area in Paracale town where most coastal areas are rocky with murky waters. – Vox Bicol