GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 December) — Illegal small-scale mining activities have remained unabated in the forests of Maitum, Sarangani with the seizure of 126 sacks of mineral ores on Tuesday, a military official said on Wednesday.
1st Lieutenant Ferdinand Ragos, commander of the 73rd Infantry Battalion’s Charlie Company, said the illegal gold ores were intercepted at their checkpoint in Barangay Tambilil, Kiamba town in Sarangani.
“It was loaded in an Isuzu elf with closed aluminum container…[They failed] to show any permit to the inspecting troops,” Ragos said in a report to Lt. Col. Adolfo Espuelas, 73rd IB commanding officer.
The truck containing the illegal gold ores was apprehended at around 1:15 am, and is allegedly owned by local businessman Bong Acquia, according to the report obtained by MindaNews.
Acquia could not be immediately reached for comment.
The gold ores came from Sitio Kaffugan in Barangay New La Union, Maitum town, and were bound to a ball mill plant in Sitio Bliss, Barangay Tambilil in Kiamba town, Ragos said.
Those who transported the mineral ores were identified as Jose Rene Farrales, Rofredo Bontong and Daerbz Generalao, the report said.
Ragos said he already informed the local police of Kiamba and the community environment and natural resources officer about the incident.
Early this year, the Sarangani provincial government ordered the closure of the illegal mining site in Sitio Kaffugan for lack of permits.
A joint police and military detachment was ordered established in the mining site to prevent further illegal activities. But it has been pulled out for still unknown reasons.
In a follow-up operation, Ragos led a 16-man military foot patrol to Sitio Kaffugan, jumping off from their detachment at around 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
They arrived in the mining site at around 10:30 am.
Two persons were apprehended, namely Carmelo Flang, 27, and Felixberto Loyao, 21, both residents of Sitio Banate in Barangay New La Union, Ragos said.
“They were caught in the act of packing the mineral ores,” the military official said, adding they turned them over to the Maitum police station for detention and further investigation. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)