PARACALE, CamNorte: Paracale municipal government is bent on stopping all small-scale mining operations in the gold-rich town and the eviction of all miners illegally operating in Palanas and the neighboring village of Malaguit, a top aide of Mayor Romeo Moreno said over the weekend.
“But the move would cripple the economy of Paracale, which has been heavily dependent on mining,” said Senen Inocalla, administrative aide of Moreno.
Inocalla quoted Moreno as saying that townsfolk could live without mining like in the past, when the gold rush in Paracale was inexistent.
But Inocalla said the municipal government had been requesting the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to determine where residents could mine safely to prevent a move that could be death sentence to thousands of townsfolk who subsist on mining.
Earlier, GoV Edgardo Tallado said the provincial government had been helpless in stopping illegal mining in Paracale because miners kept on returning to their guerilla operations despite cease and desist orders.
The move to stop small-scale ming in Paracale came after seawater rushed into at least seven mining pits in Palanas on Tuesday last week, killing at least three miners.
Authorities last Monday had recovered the bodies of all three miners, a report from the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.
The PNP report said the body of Carlos Salen, 27, was surfaced Monday morning.
On Sunday evening, the body of Luis Sayson, 33, was also fished out at about 9pm.
On Thursday, the body of Julian Cabaruvia, 22, was the first to be recovered.
With all three bodies recovered, the municipal government ended the retrieval operation jointly conducted with the PNP, Office of Civil Defense, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Coast Guard.
Adel Zamudio, municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer of Paracale, said they were not disregarding the possibility that there could be other miners trapped inside the watery pits.
But proving there were more casualties, as some townsfolk claim, would be hard, according to him.
Involved in the accident were at least seven deep pits, which were just among the hundred of pits in the seaside mining community.
The operation had been difficult because the pits, some of which exceed 20m in depths and are interconnected by extensive lateral tunnels, were submerged in water with hazardous debris.
“We would need to clear up all of the pits to finalize the number of casualties,” Zamudio said. – Bicol Mail