15 Taal Volcano illegal miners arrested

Published December 6, 2021, 4:17 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced on Monday, Dec. 6, the arrest of 15 illegal miners inside the Taal Volcano protected area.

In a statement, the DENR said the 15 individuals were apprehended for violating Republic Act (RA) No. 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area Systems (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018, RA 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, Presidential Decree 705 or The Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, and RA 9275 or the Clean Water Act.

The arrest happened on Nov. 24 after DENR’s Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS) held an anti-illegal quarrying operation in the area, where the agency also caught illegal miners a month prior.

For DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu, the new set of arrested individuals proved that illegal miners “remain unafraid of the environmental laws and their corresponding penalties.”

“These illegal quarrying operations cannot be stopped if we remain complacent with enforcement operations. This is the reason why the DENR has bolstered training for our enforcement personnel, and more reasons why the legislative arm of the government should expedite the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) Bill,” he said.

DENR said confiscated during the operations were three backhoes; two screeners, which were used to define and segregate the liberated and extracted sand and gravel materials; and a truck loaded with 127 board feet of round logs and 122.83 board feet of lumber.

It added that ELEPS operatives also discovered that the area was used as a crude “firing range” with blue barrels filled with gravel and sand serving as “target papers.” Bullet slugs were also found in the area.

DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito Antonio De Leon gave assurance that ELEPS team “will do their best to put the offenders in jail after this operation.”

“We have seen that the ELEPS and its partner agencies have truly developed their skills in apprehending erring quarrying personnel, thanks to the support of Secretary Cimatu and the DENR’s Human Resource and Development Service during their special course in the Environment and Natural Resources Academy,” he said.