Negros Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board to conduct ocular inspection in Siaton’s “gold mines”

March 15, 2012 9:21 am 

DUMAGUETE CITY, March 14 – The Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board of Negros Oriental will conduct Friday an ocular inspection of the supposed illegal gold mining activities in the interior and mountainous village of Catipon in Siaton town.

This developed following last week’s meeting of the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board during which it was agreed upon that an ocular inspection was necessary to determine legitimate actions to be taken by government, said Siaton Councilor Salome Lagos.

According to Councilor Lagos, the area where the unlawful excavations for gold dust and nuggets are located is believed to be timberland in nature and owned by the government. Earlier, Mario Aragon, chief of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office II also announced that, indeed, these areas are classified as forestal.

The ocular inspection comes as the Siaton local government unit (LGU) continues to undertake a series of trainings in the different barangays as part of the town’s efforts to map out its Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) and Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), said Lagos. The lady councilor is the chair of the municipal council’s Committee on the Environment.

To recall, the mining for gold in Catipon was first reported in late January after Siaton Mayor Albert Ator ordered a verification of the said illegal activities. Some of those interviewed admitted having extracted gold dust and gold nuggets from various open pits in Catipon.

At least two families have earlier claimed ownership of the said land, even as authorities had ordered the immediate stoppage of the excavations to prevent the loss of lives and for environmental reasons.

Meanwhile, Councilor Lagos disclosed on Wednesday that reports reaching Siaton officials said activity has resumed in Catipon in the absence of a regular security force deployed to the area.

It is almost like a cat-and-mouse game, and this is one of the reasons for the ocular inspection, to find measures beneficial to all concerned, Lagos stressed.

In fact, one option is to apply for a tenureship with the government and establish a regulated “Minahan Ng Bayan” or a common small-scale mining operation, Lagos disclosed.

However, this proposal needs careful study to ensure that lives are protected as well as the environment, she added.

The Siaton LGU, headed by Mayor Albert Ator, will undertake a series of consultations with various stakeholders to set the parameters for various options in addressing the problem of illegal gold extraction activities in Catipon, Lagos said. (PNA) RSV/JFP

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