6 Taal Volcano miners found guilty of illegal quarrying, extraction

Published October 4, 2021, 6:59 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has won its case filed against six miners in the Taal Volcano after a municipal court in Batangas found them guilty of illegal quarrying and extraction.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday welcomed the two-page decision penned by 5th Talisay-Laurel’s Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Librado Chavez. He said their prosecution is “very timely to inspire the enforcement team to train well and continue this success.”

Found guilty were Elmer Portugal, Lindley Miranda, Jeremy Caramoan, Gualberto Eser, Calisto Quimio and Geron Yambing, who were also ordered to pay a P10,000 fine each, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

“After the launch of our special course on enforcement at our Environment and Natural Resources Academy (ENRA), this development serves as a benchmark into making sure that the laws are strictly and properly promulgated,” Cimatu said.

Portugal, Miranda, Caramoan, Eser, Quimio and Yambing were arrested in December 2019 after they were caught extracting 14,430 cubic meters of palanas minerals and disposing soil from an area that is part of the Taal Volcano Protected Area Landscape and is classified as timberland.

The extracted palanas minerals, worth around P2.46 million, were taken during a quarry operation in Barangay Banga in Talisay, Batangas without the necessary permits from the local Provincial Mining Regulatory Board and the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Region IV-A.

They were charged in violation of Section 103 of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942 and Section 20 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 or Republic Act No. 7586.

“We are seeing promising developments in the area of environmental law enforcement. Hopefully, these developments may inspire our legislators to mark this bill as urgent,” DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito Antonio De Leon said.