OPOL, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/29 February) – Mayor Dexter B. Yasay lauded the raid against illegal miners operating along the Iponan River of this town last Tuesday, saying the drive will be even more fruitful now that his undermanned police force has been backed by soldiers.
He said that Tuesday’s raid, which resulted in the confiscation of 15 diesel-powered hydraulic pumps, put out of commission more illegal mining operations than the raids in the two previous years combined.
Yasay said 9 of the 15 confiscated hydraulic pumps came from Sitio Inapasan, while the remaining 6 were from Sitio Araw-araw, both part of Barangay Bagokbok of this municipality.
The mayor said he was glad that the campaign against illegal miners, which came over two months after Typhoon Sendong claimed over a thousand lives in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, has now caught the attention of the Provincial Peace and Order Council headed Vice Gov. Norris Babiera, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the regional and provincial police force and the Philippine Army.
Aside from the heavy rainfall, environmentalists have blamed the killer flashfloods on December 16 and 17 to mining and logging operations in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and neighboring areas.
During the raid, the undermanned Opol police force composed of only 16 troopers was supported by 26 personnel from the police’s Regional Public Safety Battalion, 21 from the Provincial Public Safety Battalion and 32 heavily armed soldiers from the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division based in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City.
“We are not letting up in our anti-illegal mining operations and we’ve been doing it since 2009. I know that our drive will affect several individuals, even people I know, but we will move forward with our commitment,” said Yasay.
Yasay pointed out that raids in previous years had been not been this effective since the municipality lacked manpower. Besides, the road going to the mining areas were not accessible then, he added.
“This time, with the manpower and support given to us, the operations outcome was bigger compared to that of the previous years. With this renewed support and commitment from other agencies, I’m sure our campaign will be fruitful this year,” he said.
Chief Inspector Rogelio Labor, station commander of the Opol police force, also noted that the confiscated hydraulic pumps are now bigger compared to the ones used by miners in previous years.
“These illegal operations are getting bigger and much more sophisticated. They are now using engines we’ve never seen during our previous raids,” he said.
This reporter noticed the same observation during a raid back in 2010, when the hydraulic pumps seized were much smaller and less powerful. (Erwin Mascariñas / MindaNews)