Gov orders arrest of illegal miners in T’boliadmin
Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes of South Cotabato has ordered the police and the military to arrest illegal miners, especially those involved in the destructive banlas, or sluice mining, in Barangay Kematu, T’boli.
Lourdes Jumilla, secretary of the provincial mining regulatory board, said Fuentes issued the order in the wake of the continuing illegal mining in the gold-rich village.
“These people have been violating the stoppage order issued by the provincial government since last year and were continually destroying the mountains of Barangay Kematu,” Jumilla said.
She said Fuentes fears that the illegal activities might worsen the huge cracks found in the area several months ago and cause deadly landslides.
Soldiers from the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion earlier confirmed the renewed sluice mining activities in Sitio B’langas, Kematu, after they arrested three minors who were working on a sluice-mining site.
Jumilla said no adult miners were arrested because they managed to escape and left the children on their own.
The minors were turned over to the municipal social welfare and development office of T’boli.
The soldiers who were assigned to secure the area confiscated various mining equipment used in gold extraction.
Fuentes earlier warned that the provincial government would not hesitate to file charges against anyone who would destroy the mountains of T’boli.
“Those violating the law should not be rewarded. We have been so lenient before but many of them continued to abuse our policies,” she said.
Fuentes said a police detachment would be set up at the mountains of Sitio B’langas to prevent further unlawful activity.
At least 14 people had been charged with theft of minerals by the provincial government.
If convicted, the suspects could get a jail term of at least six years.
The governor ordered the total closure of the mining activities in Sitio B’langas last year the destructive practice almost cut a mountain into half. PNA