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Joint Operation against illegal mining and other environmental violations

In the early morning of May 13, 2023, a composite team from the DENR Regional Office 10, MGB Regional Office 10, NBI North Eastern Mindanao Regional Office and 1 st Special Forces Company of the 1 st Special Forces Battalion under the 403 rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, jointly conducted an operation against illegal mining activities and violation of other environmental laws along the Iponan River at Barangay Pigsag-an, Cagayan de Oro City bordering Barangays Cauyonan and Nangcaon, Opol, Misamis Oriental. The composite team arrested 18 individuals, 5 of whom are Chinese Nationals, who were caught in the act of doing illegal mining activities and committing violations of other environmental laws in the said portion of the Iponan River. Also apprehended and seized during the joint operation were 6 Excavators, 1 Fuel Tanker, 1 Boom Truck, 1 Mini Dump Truck, various industrial water pumps, and other mining equipment and materials estimated at roughly 30Million pesos. The arrested individuals were immediately detained at the detention facility of NBI North Eastern Mindanao Regional Office at Capitol Compound, Cagayan de Oro City. This morning, cases were filed against the 18 arrested individuals for violation of the following laws: 1. Sec. 103 of R.A. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act) 2. Sec. 27 of R.A. 7076 (Small-Scale Mining Act) 3. Article 91 (B) sub-paragraphs 3 and 5 of Presidential Decree 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines (PD 1067) 4. Sec. 8 of Presidential Decree No. 984 or the National Pollution Control Decree of the Philippines (PD 984) 5. Sec. 27 of the R.A. 9275 (Philippine Clean Water Act) 6. PD 705 (Forestry Code of the Philippines) 7. Sec. 27 (a) of R.A. 9149 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act) 8. Art. 151 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines The joint operation is so far the biggest operation against illegal mining activities and violation of other environmental laws in the Iponan River. The illegal mining activities and violation of other environmental laws resulted to significant damage to the Iponan River. Initial estimates show at least 7.3 hectares of damaged/impacted areas supported by the use of time series satellite imagery along that stretch of the Iponan River. The perpetrators left massive excavations and destroyed various indigenous trees in the area purposely to extract precious minerals. The successful joint operation was a product of thorough and systematic surveillance, planning and coordination of the composite team with the help of the concerned citizens who provided material information. The DENR 10 and MGB 10 extend their deep appreciation to the NBI North Eastern Mindanao Regional Office headed by Regional Director Patricio Bernales, Jr. and the 4 th Infantry Division, Philippine Army under the command of Major General Jose Maria Cuerpo for providing valuable support and assistance. Our respective offices will continue to lead the implementation of environmental laws, rules, and regulations all throughout Region 10. Lastly, we call on the concerned government agencies, other stakeholders and the communities along the Iponan River to take consistent active measures to combat illegal mining operations in the area. We hope that the recently conducted joint operation and the succeeding monitoring and rehabilitation efforts will bring about positive changes and bring to life again the Iponan River.


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