Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday challenged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop the unabated small-scale mining operations at the boundary of Sipalay City and Hinoba-an, which use toxic chemicals and dump their waste in a creek.
“They should investigate and stop it,” Marañon said, apparently referring to the DENR.
The governor said he has already called the attention of DENR, which has jurisdiction over the problem. If they cannot stop it, Marañon said, “Just give us the authority, and we will stop it”.
The Provincial Environment and Management Office has reported that unabated small-scale mining operations in Brgy. Nabulao, Sipalay City, and within its boundary with Hinobaan, already covers about 100 hectares.
PEMO Regulatory Division officer-in-charge, Eriberto Madalag, expressed fears that small-scale mining operations may cause another Compostela Valley incident, where the latest landslides reportedly claimed the lives of about 100 miners.
About 100 families are reportedly engaged in small-mining activities, by digging holes and tunnels, in search of gold and copper. They are using deadly chemicals, such like cyanide and mercury, in the processing and extraction of gold.
PEMO investigations show that the toxic wastes are being dumped into a creek, that connects to the Bacuyangan River in Hinobaan, where they eventually kill the fish and shrimps.
Madalag said the limited technical skills of small-scale miners for using hazardous chemicals, not only endangers their health, but also affects the environment.
Marañon also hinted his dissatisfaction with some national government agencies, that he also blamed for in environmental problems, citing the arrest of illegal loggers, who later managed to present a permit to cut trees, said.
Madalag had earlier said that “political will” is needed to stop the small-scale mining operations in southern Negros.
Although a cease and desist order has already been issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR against the miners, he said, the illegal activity still continues.*GPB