Young miners panning for gold in a riverbed in Paracale. – ILOpic
By JUAN ESCANDOR JR
DAET, CamNorte: The governor of this province has dismissed allegations that the proliferation of small-scale mining in the province of CamNorte has his “blessings”.
Gov Edgardo “Egay” Tallado explained that the granting of permits to small-scale mining ventures, mostly in the towns of Paracale and Panganiban, is ministerial on his part.
Tallado said the governor is the last one to sign documents regarding permits to small-scale mining after the endorsement of barangay authorities and the compliance of requirements issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“With more than 10,000 people depending on mining for their livelihood, how can I reject the permits when they are already endorsed by barangay officials and the community and the MGB,” the governor said.
Acknowledging that there are illegal small-scale mining operations in CamNorte, Tallado cited the difficulty in stopping them as the illegal operations are like “cat and mouse” scenario which the local authorities cannot totally monitor.
He said the Philippine National Police do not have enough manpower to go after illegal miners in the far-flung villages who operate whenever authorities are not around.
Tallado said that it’s when accidents happen that these illegal mining activities are discovered.
He said the granting of small-scale mining permits has generated a revenue of P15 million for the provincial government from nothing.
He added that the mining activities during the previous administration had been almost the same but the provincial government did not benefit without revenue collection from small-scale mining.
Tallado mentioned the recognition given by the Bureau of Local Government Finance because of the phenomenal increase in revenue of the provincial government brought about by the collection of fees from small-scale mining operations.
In July, the late Interior and Local Government Sec. Jesse M. Robredo has ordered a probe on the alleged illegal mining activities in Camarines Norte.
Robredo had accused Tallado that the governor was condoning illegal mining activities in two mineral-rich towns of CamNorte based on complaints that reached the former’s department and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Tallado had welcomed the probe because he said he will be given a chance to clear his name.
He blamed politicians to be behind the move to destroy his name as the local election nears.
Robredo ordered the agents of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Office of Internal Security and the DILG Region 5 Director Blandino Maceda to investigate the case against Tallado as soon as possible.
He said the complaints lodged against Tallado are serious enough to warrant an immediate investigation.
The complaint about “flagrant violation of environmental laws” of three mining companies was lodged by Rio G Paliza, president of Paracale chapter of the Junior Chamber International Philippines, which was sent to Robredo, Environment Sec. Ramon Paje and Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon in a letter dated June 18.
Paliza complained the operations of the Uni Dragon Mining and Development Corp., the Bao Tong Mining Corporation, and Lioaning Fenghua Group Philippine Mining Company, Inc had been inflicting much damage on the environment, particularly the Paracale shoreline.
He said the three companies were issued Temporary Small-Scale Mining Permits by Tallado’s office. – Bicol Mail