BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/12 April) – Residents and an environmental group are alarmed that the ongoing quarrying along Kalinawan river in Tubay, Agusan del Norte could be a ruse of operators mining gold and causing damage to the river system.
“We have noticed since February quarrying operations along several parts of the Kalinawan river. The vessels used are like floating excavators, dredging and pumping sand and gravel and filtering it. From what we saw it is a vessel designed for gold mining operation,” Butch Dagondon, executive director of Green Mindanao, said.
Dagondon stressed that several of these are located close to the bridges in Tubay and populated communities and since they are randomly doing the activity in different parts of the river, they are creating a block and making the river shallow in several areas.
“The structure is situated just a few meters from the bridge. This will also pose danger to the infrastructure and risk the safety of riverside communities in case heavy rains hit the area,” he said.
Tubay Mayor Sadeka Garcia-Tomaneng said: “I don’t know of any gold mining operation in the river with such kind of equipment. If it is gold then I’m sure by now we would have heard about it. The applications and issuance of quarrying permit does not pass our office. The province is the one giving it out,” she said.
But Tomaneng said she would look into the complaints and added that if she finds out that these operations harm the environment, she would find ways to stop them.
Residents from Barangay Sta. Ana, Barangay Dona Rosario and Poblacion 2 who requested not to be named said the quarrying operations there had been going on for nearly a year now.
“They have been operating for almost a year now. They just transfer and then start in another part of the river. I’m sure they are not quarrying since we don’t see any truck taking the filtered gravel out of the area. Instead, they just return the pile to the river. We know that it is gold that they are after,” a resident from Barangay Dona Rosario said.
Another resident from Barangay Sta. Ana pointed out that the persons behind the operations are Chinese nationals and that the only Filipino workers they hire are security guards and errand boys. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)