CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY(MindaNews/ 21 September)— Aboard two choppers of the Philippine Air Force’s Technical Operations Group, local environmentalists and reporters discovered Friday morning six mining barges operating in one of the upland barangays in this city.
At least three barges, including a mini-loader and a backhoe, were spotted operating within the Barangay Tuburan area beside the Iponan River.
Orlan Ravanera, Sulog chairman, who was on board the lead chopper, said he spotted also three more barges upstream of the Iponan River.
Sulog is a coalition of local environmental groups and socio-political organizations. It means “current” in the vernacular.
“I thought these miners were done operating in the area because of the raid conducted by government agencies awhile back. I was appalled to see them operating again,” said Ravanera.
Recently, authorities padlocked a dredger operating in Barangay Pagalungan here, because this was actually being used for gold deposit extraction, and not just sand and gravel.
A joint operation by the local police and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, discovered the dredger operating near the boundary of Cagayan de Oro and Opol town, Misamis Oriental.
It was one of the six barge-like vessels reportedly operating along the Iponan River.
Ravanera said that with the video footages and pictures as evidences, they will file a class suit against “anybody who is responsible for letting the mining barges operate again.”
“One Sendong is enough. We should now stop (the) abuse of nature. We call on one and all to take legal action in a form of a class suit,” he said.
Environmentalists and civil society groups, together with the Roman Catholic Church led by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, have concurred that mining operations in the hinterland barangays of the city contributed much to the destruction wrought by tropical storm Sendong late last year.
At least 1,500 people have been killed in the flashfloods then that hit Northern Mindanao, many of them from this city. (Cong B. Corrales/MindaNews)