Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the closure of small-scale mining operations in a landslide-prone area in the municipality of Quezon in Nueva Vizcaya province.
Cimatu directed the MGB to close down small-scale mining operations at barangay Runruno after nine miners have died due to landslides during the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses.
In spite of that, he instructed the MGB to identify a possible "minahang bayan" site for those who will be displaced by the closure to ensure their safety and continued livelihood, and prevent further destruction of the environment.
Identifying a site for "minahang bayan" will allow small-scale miners to operate legally.
It will also enable the government to better monitor and regulate their extractive activities, while helping promote the safety of these workers, protect the environment, and generate revenues for government.
Also during his visit in Tuguegarao City on Nov. 23, Cimatu also broached plans of dredging and enforcement of 20-meter easement rule along the largest river in the country to avoid a repeat of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela during the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses.
The DENR chief discussed the proposal with four governors and 31 mayors from Cagayan Valley.
"We will create a working group and conduct a joint meeting to come up with important engineering interventions along the Cagayan River," said Cimatu, who co-chairs the Build Back Better Task Force that will oversee the rehabilitation of areas devastated by recent typhoons.
He explained that the planned working group will be comprised of the governors of Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya, as well as the provinces in the nearby Cordillera Administrative Region.
Aside from the immediate dredging of the heavily silted Cagayan River, Cimatu said strict implementation of the easement rule along its riverbanks is a must.
"We have to follow the 20-meter easement. There should be no building or any structure within the easement zone," he said.
Cimatu also asked Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano to address the problem of illegal structures along creeks that block the waterways.
He also instructed DENR-Cagayan Valley Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Cagayan Valley Director Mario Ancheta to work with the concerned provincial governments for the relocation of communities living along riverbanks.
At the same time, Cimatu called on local officials whose areas were hit by the recent flooding to ensure the availability of water, electricity, transportation, telecommunication and adequate basic needs.