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Camarines Norte Governor investigated over alleged illegal mining activities

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo ordered an investigation on Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo Tallado last Tuesday, after receiving several complaints from local non-government organizations and other environmentalists on the  alleged involvement of the governor in various illegal mining operations in the towns of Paracale and Jose Panganiban, said to be rich in gold and iron ore.

Robredo said, “I have ordered the agents of the DILG to investigate the case against Gov. Tallado ASAP. The complaints lodged against him by his constituents are serious enough to warrant an immediate investigation.”

In a letter of complaint dated June 18, Rio Paliza, president of the Paracale chapter of the Junior Chamber International Philippines, told Robredo, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje, and Bureau of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon about the “flagrant violation of environmental laws” by three mining companies operating in Paracale, namely Uni Dragon Mining and Development Corp., Philippine Bao Tong Mining Corp., and Liaoning Fenghua Group Philippine Mining Co. Inc.

Paliza stated that Tallado’s office issued Temporary Small- Scale Mining Permits to said mining companies. But their mining operations damaged the environment, particularly the shoreline of Paracale. “These mining firms have been illegally and irresponsibly operating in our town which has caused damage to some 40 hectares of coral and marine life in Barangay Bagumbayan by disposing their mud waste directly on our sea that resulted to a waist-deep mud waste,” he said.

Among Paliza’s complaints are the continued operations of Philippine Bao Tao Mining Corp. despite a September 5, 2011 cease and desist order by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR and the full large-scale mining operations of Liaoning Fenghua Group despite only being given a temporary small-scale mining permit by the provincial government.

Yinlu Bicol Mining Corp. director Robert Durante also complained to DILG secretary about the alleged illegal issuance of two temporary small-scale mining permits by Tallado’s office to a Malaysian-owned mining firm.

Durante, however, said the mining firm, which only has a small-scale mining permit, uses heavy machinery and explosives without the environmental clearance certificate of DENR. He added that the mining firm also made 10 shipments totalling to 112,068.496 metric tons of iron ore “under highly questionable circumstances and documentation.”

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