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6 charged for illegal mining in Zamboanga

- Jun Pasaylo -

MANILA, Philippines – Six persons, including a town official of Bayog town in Zamboanga del Sur, are facing charges for their alleged relentless efforts to mine gold ores in the mineral-rich area of Balabag Hill without the necessary permits from the government.

Facing charges for Thief of Minerals in violation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942) are Julieto Monding, Ace Malagum Avila, Ricjie Mantos, Edward Mantos, Julito Guadalquiver and Stephen Maribao.

All respondents are members of Monte de Oro Small-Scalle Mining Operations (MOSSMA) in the area, while Monding is a councilor of Bayog town who, in an earlier interview, denied that they are illegally operating in the area.

He said the People's Mining Act of 1991 immediately legalized the operation of all small-scale miners in the country.

The charges stemmed from the proliferation of illegal mining activities in Balabag that prompted various law enforcement agencies to create an Inter-Agency Task Force in the area.

Since its creation in 2011, the task force has already filed over a dozen cases against individuals who spearheaded small-scale mining operations in the area.

Paul Vincent Arias, a member of the task force, disclosed that the cases filed against the suspects included thief of minerals and transport of illegal mining equipments and chemicals.

"We already file several cases against those individuals that attempt to transport illegal chemicals and minerals," he said.

The group, who spearheaded the campaign against illegal mining, also intercepted hundreds of kilos of solid cyanide chemicals and pregnant mineral ores that contain gold and silver from illegal miners.

The task force was a composed of representatives from the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, local government units, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), among others.

It has an existing checkpoint in the hinterlands of Balabag village in Bayog town.

The latest addition to the recovered items from illegal miners was the 75 sacks of illegally extracted limestone and 28 bags of illegally extracted coal.

Last night, the task force has also seized 65 sacks of illegally extracted ores from small-scale mining operators in Balabag Hill.

The complaint filed at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Zamboanga del Sur disclosed that the respondents "illegally transported minerals without a mining agreement, lease, permit, right or authority to do so..."

ACE MALAGUM AVILA

AMP

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

BALABAG

BALABAG HILL

BAYOG

COM

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

EDWARD MANTOS

MINING

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