mining in the Philippines

Governor tasks ex-general to police mining in Davao Oriental

Ferdinand Zuasola
Governor tasks ex-general to police mining in Davao Oriental

MINING EFFECT. A capitol photo in January 2022 shows a river showing signs of heavy siltation in Banaybanay in Davao Oriental.

courtesy of Nieor Escaped

Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon frowns on the DENR's move to lift the cease-and-desist order against a large-scale mining company, saying mining investments were unwelcome in the province

DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon appointed a former deputy chief of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) to head a group that would crack down on illegal miners and erring holders of mining concession permits in the province.

Malanyaon named retired brigadier general Leopoldo Imbang Jr. to lead a provincial government group that would keep an eye on miners and strictly enforce rules on mining throughout Davao Oriental.

She announced this when Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director for the Davao Region Jasper Alberto Lascano led officials in holding a mining industry briefing at the capitol on Wednesday, July 13.

CRACKDOWN. Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon names a retired general to lead the capitol’s campaign against illegal miners and strictly enforce mining regulations in the province. (courtesy of the Davao Oriental Provincial Information Office)

The briefing was made following the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to lift a cease-and-desist order issued in January against the Riverbend Consolidated Mining Corporation-Arc Nickel Resources, one of Davao Oriental’s biggest miners.

The company was fined and ordered to stop operations by then-environment secretary Roy Cimatu for damaging the Mapagba and Pintatagan rivers in the town of Banaybanay as a result of what officials said was an “accident.”

Malanyaon showed her displeasure over the DENR’s move to lift the order and told visiting MGB officials that mining investments were unwelcome in the province.

“Davao Oriental has never made mining a priority,” she told the officials.

The announcement that Riverbend-Arc Nickel was allowed to resume operations came just days after Malanyaon vowed to crack down on destructive mining activities in Davao Oriental.

Malanyaon said the capitol cannot go against the national government’s policy of promoting mining investments in the country, but she warned that the provincial government would watch and strictly enforce mining regulations, starting with those operating illegally.

She also said the capitol would be intolerant of mining companies that would shortchange the province.

“We have to assert our rights over taxes and revenues to be generated from it. There are several mining companies here that have failed to comply. If there are no taxes and our province’s resources are being exploited, what benefit will our people get then? We will protect the interest of the province,” she said.

Malanyaon said she tasked Imbang to spearhead the provincial government’s campaign against illegal mining, keep an eye on those given mining concessions by the national government, ensure that they follow rules to the letter, and pay up.

“I asked General Imbang to help see to it that everything that is due the provincial government will be given to us,” she said. 

The group was also tasked to protect the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which was listed as a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In September 2009, the head of a group tasked by Malanyaon to launch a crackdown on destructive mining was assassinated while he was dining in a restaurant in Mati City.

Authorities believed the killing of retired colonel Eulogio Baltazar, who was made Davao Oriental’s environment and natural resources office chief by Malanyaon, was related to the crackdown. –

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