BONTOC, Mountain Province – Police and environment officials lauded various small-scale miners’ associations in the province for their cooperation in the government’s campaign against the proliferation of illegal mining by starting the stringent process of legalizing their operations.
Mountain Province Provincial Police Director Senior Superintendent Allen S. Ocden said that law enforcers are not actually against the operation of small-scale miners because pocket mining is their source of livelihood but there are regulations that must be strictly followed by those involved in the environmentally critical activity that is why there are now efforts to put things in their proper order.
“We are grateful to our small-scale mining groups because they already started processing the needed documents for the legalization of their operations in certain parts of the province. We know that pocket mining is a major source of livelihood for some people but what we would like to explain is that those involved in the pocket mining operations must comply with certain rules and regulations to guarantee the protection of the environment from the use of hazardous chemicals, the safety of the miners and the protection of their health and the people living in nearby communities where such operations are done,” Ocden stressed.
The police officials explained the conduct of unregulated mining operations around the province is fare more dangerous compared to the conduct of regulated mining activities because they can just wilfully dispose of hazardous chemicals that will greatly affect the state of the environment in their places apart from the fact that there will be no guarantee of their safety and security in their working areas but with the adherence of the pocket miners to existing law, rules and regulations, priority will be given to the safety and security of the small-scale miners, the preservation and protection of the environment and the health of not only the miners but also the people living in surrounding villages.
Ocden warned small-scale miners in some parts of the province who refuse to cooperate with previous agreements for them to legalize their operations that efforts will be done to stop their illegal activity and seal their mine working areas until they will be able to show proof that they will be authorized to do pocket mining activities in identified Minahang Bayan areas provincewide.
According to him, existing laws, rules and regulations do not totally prohibit the conduct of small-scale mining operations but what it clearly provides is for pocket miners to secure the needed documents that will allow them to perform such small-scale mining activity following various regulations that will guarantee the practice of responsible mining for the benefit of a good state of the environment, the safety of the miners and the people as well as their health.
Ocden appealed to the pocket miners not to use the stoppage of their operations against him but for them to look into the long-term benefits of having to comply with law, rules and regulations because they will be the ones that will reap the fruits of their legal operations since their activities will no longer be interrupted by the implementation of closure orders issued by concerned government agencies and the local government against them that will result to peace of mind on their part.