By Warren Elijah Valdez
DAVAO CITY – The provincial government of Davao de Oro has urged the ball mill operators and plant owners yet to transfer from Barangay Diwata, Monkayo, Compostella Valley – a municipality of Davao de Oro.
Governor Jayvee Tyrone Uy revealed to reporters on Friday that out of the 390 ball mill operators and land owners engaged in the mining activity in Mt. Diwatal (commonly known as Mt. Diwalwal), more than 190 of them have already transferred to the Mabatas area prior to the reactivation of the Davao de Oro Provincial Task Force Naboc River.
“I would like to appeal to the operators to hasten the transfer because the earlier that we get to transfer, the more it is that we will not suffer as you can still continue with your operations,” he said.
He emphasized that the mining was not put into a permanent stoppage, and that what the government was opposing was the improper disposal of wastes which directly go to the river.
“But this time, in Mabatas area, we have mitigating measures (implemented). We have (installed) structures which will prevent the wastes from going to our waterways (and rivers) as there is already a (dam) in the area,” the governor added.
Uy also reiterated that the operators will be allowed to avail of assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) once they leave.
“(We) have proposed together with Congressman (Manuel) Waykurat Zamora to the Department of Labor and Employment for an assistance for the workers who have been displaced (from job) in Diwalwal,” he said, stressing that they (government) also understand that what was temporarily put on halt is also the source of livelihood of the displaced workers.
“We are just implementing coming from a good perspective as this is a mandate from the executive department,” he added, noting that Naboc River has constantly been mentioned by President Duterte in previous State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs).
“Prior to that we already acted, but now, we are pushing for the reinforcement because that rehabilitation of the Naboc River has started again two weeks ago,” he said.
On March 16 last year, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 11 issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) on operators of carbon-in-pulp (CIPs) and ball mills in Barangay Diwalwal as a move to fully implement the rehabilation of Naboc River.
DENR 11 previously bared that it was high time the processing plants in Diwalwal transfer to the Mine Processing Zone in Barangay Mabatas.
Around 1,797 ball mills and 31 CIPs were shut down following the issuance of the cease-and-desist were served.
Uy said “most of them have already transferred, however there are still those. who practice wrong waste disposal to the river, which pushed the provincial government to reinforce and reactivate the Davao Task Force Naboc River.
He reported that, in the last three weeks, there were around five individuals now under detention as they apprehended by the elements of Philippine National Police (PNP) in the area for violating the cease-and- desist order.
Davao Task Force Naboc River also targets to complete the relocation of the small-scale gold processing operators to Mabatas so as to fully implement the Provincial Naboc River Rehabilitation Masterplan in reviving the river.
The provincial governor also bared that they have started the dredging operations in Naboc River as part of the rehabilitation program.
“We have already given permission to the contractors to undergo dredging for the water waste to recover the mercury and cyanide,” she said.
In a previous study conducted by the DENR- Environment Management Board (EMB), the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB), the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO), it was found out that the river has a high concentration of mercury.