A 22-member Environmental Team composed of DENR, LGU, Army, PNP, NGO, MEDIA and Diocese of Marbel personnel conducted an ocular visit on 26 May in Crossing Mangisi, Mangisi, Palo 19 (Liberty), Municipality of Tampakan.
A. Findings from report of Rene Pamplona, DSAC:
1. About 10 hectares of forest were cleared by burning in Crossing Mangisi. Burned trees are still standing, but dead. Girdling (“binalatan”) of trees is obvious. Portion of cleared areas are already planted to corn. Elevation of this cleared area is 1,300 meters as shown by the GPS. Forest preservation area. Agricultural activities, like planting corn, are prohibited by law.
2. A few meters from the base camp, trees were cut down, using chainsaws. Sawdusts were seen.
3. Ongoing drilling operation in Mangisi, Tablu was observed. Drilling operation by SMI at this final stage of feasibility study is supposed to have ceased.
4. The “banlas” method of dislodging ores by using water hose, within the boundary of Mangisi, Tablu and Brgy. Pula Bato, is just below the SMI’s base camp. Fully grown secondary growth forest area and one of the headwaters of the Tributary of the Taplan River. About 3 hectares were damaged by the illegal small scale mining (SMI) operation. SS miners scampered away when they saw the team coming.
5. Mining tunnels were also seen in Mangisi.
6. One of the tributaries of the Taplan River was used for panning and discharge of toxic substance.
7. PEMO De Leon, a team member, confiscated some of the water hoses (around 50 meters long) used for hydraulic mining, crushed ores, and a wooden pan. Rest of materials for illegal mining was destroyed.
8. SMI employees know about the mining operation. The area is just below the base camp.
9. The cutting of trees, burning of the area, and SSM are within the Mining Development Area of SMI.
10. In Barangay Palo Alto 19, illegal extraction of copper ores was stopped according to Brgy. Captain Alexander Felizilda. Some sacks containing ores were dumped along the road.
B. Comments by Rodne R. Galicia, Sites of Struggles Officer, Alianza Tigil Mina (ATM)
1. The interplay of SSM (Small Scale Mining) and SMI (Sagittarius Mines, Inc.) is worth exploring. Why is SMI tolerating SSM operations? Any other mining activity is prohibited within a claim area of a company, unless allowed by SMI, the holder of an FTAA (Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement). So, if the SS miners are apprehended would SMI be also liable?
2. What is the action of the MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau) on this illegal mining? Why is MGB passing the “buck” to the LGU?
3. Who finances SSM? SMI?
4. Is the LGU knowledgeable about the SSM?
5. The illegal cutting and transport of trees had been acted upon by the DENR already. Lumber contractors had been sued.
C. Environmental Team Members
1. Reynaldo Doque – MGB IL
2. Leonisa C. Alfaro – DENR-PENRO, South Cotabato
3. Ramon Ponce de Leon – PEMO, South Cotabato
4. Rey R. Pedroso – DENR-PENRO, South Cotabato
5. Michael Babas – PEMO AAIII
6. Manuel P. Balquin – LGU, Tampakan
7. 1st Lt. Dennis Nolasco – Cmdr. Bravo Coy, 27th IB PA
8. Anna Liza Cabrido – Bombo Radyo
9. Roel P. Ozano – DXOM
10. Cpl. Demetrio C. Arostique – Bravo Coy, 27IB PA
11. Fr. Rey Joloro – Vicar I, Tampakan Parish
12. Edel Roderos – DXCP
13. Rodene Galicha – ATM
14. Ireneo Felicilda – PPC, Tampakan Parish
15. Tony Cainap – PSAC, Tampakan
16. Danny Sabino – DXCP
17. Cyrusman O. Fernandez – MENRO-Tampakan
18. PNP Tampakan – 2 personnel
20. Rene Pamplona – DSAC Marbel
21. Rodne Galicia – SOS Officer, ATM
22. Jean Marie Ferraris – LRC-KsK/FoE Phil.
D. Follow-up Meeting
Reports will be presented and discussed on June 9, 2009 at 9a.m., Bishop’s Residence. Initial strategic plans will be drawn up.
Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 534, June 01, 2009)