Monkayo LGU okays relocation of miners, opposes large-scale mining

By Antonio L. Colina IV

Davao City – The Municipal government of Monkayo in Compostela Valley province said yesterday it supports the relocation of small-scale miners from Mt. Diwalwal to Barangay Mabatas but opposes the entry of large-scale mining companies.

Monkayo Mayor Ramil L. Gentugaya said they are opposing the plan of state-run Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC) to bring large-scale mining companies to their community because they would extract all minerals, depriving their small-scale miners of livelihood.

He said the local government unit (LGU) has supported the PMDC’s initiative to clear the “gold rush area” of small-scale miners in order to save nearby Naboc River that has been polluted with mercury and cyanide which are toxic chemicals used by the miners.

Gentugaya said that the local government is even willing to provide trucks for the transfer of the processing plants.

But the local chief executive wants the PMDC to focus on the cleanup of the river first rather than inviting large-scale miners to operate in Mt. Diwalwal.

“My stand is that the God-given resources must go to the small-scale miners in our community because we know that if the large-scale miners will come in, they will extract everything,” he added.

But Gentugaya said the Mabatas relocation area is not yet ready because it has no electricity, which is necessary to run the processing plants of the small-scale miners.

He said it is PMDC’s responsibility to connect the area to the grid.

On March 28, 2018, Gentugaya ordered PMDC to cease and desist from any mining and exploration activities in Barangays Mt. Diwata, Upper Ulip and all others areas within the territorial jurisdiction of the municipal government for its “defiance, violation, and continued mining exploration activities” without appropriate consultation and coordination with the local government.

The order covers all other mining areas under the control of PMDC, including those covered by joint operating agreements (JOAs) without the requisite mayor’s clearance pursuant to the Municipal Environment Code.

Gentugaya added that PMDC president Alberto M. Sipaco Jr. failed to secure permits from the local government when they constructed the necessary structures for the Mabatas relocation site such as the water system and the electric posts.

But Sipaco told a press conference on Monday that PMDC issued an execution order last May 21 to their CDO dated July 2017 after then Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II nullified the mayor’s order since it only cited a local ordinance and that the local government’s ordinance cannot supersede the authority of PMDC in managing national government such as in the Diwalwal.