Illegal mining crackdown hikes revenue in South Cotabato

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/ 21 Nov) – The clampdown on illegal small-scale mining and quarry activities has led to record-breaking revenue collections in South Cotabato, an official said on Wednesday.

Siegfred M. Flaviano, Provincial Environment Management Office chief, said the province is expected to reach its target collection of at least P15 million this year for the mining industry.

“As of September, we have already collected almost P13 million from mining and quarry fees…. The higher collection was because of the ‘strong political will’ imposed by the province against illegal small-scale miners,” he said.

Last year, the province collected some P9 million from mining and quarry fees, which was the record, he added.

Among the factors cited by Flaviano in the higher revenue collection this year was the series of closure orders issued by Gov. Arthur Y. Pingoy Jr. against small-scale miners and ball mill operators in T’boli, a gold-rich town in the upper valley portion of South Cotabato.

The closure order against these illegal mining players forced them to seek permits and pay the necessary fees, Flaviano said.

In particular, most of the ball mill operators or gold processors have been operating illegally in the past several years without permits until the crackdown that was set in motion since last year, he stressed.

Also, the provincial government installed closed-circuit television cameras in T’boli town to curb illegal mining activities there, Flaviano stressed.

Pingoy earlier noted that the illegal small-scale miners and gold processors were denying the provincial government of income because they are not filing for permits and pay the necessary fees.

Pingoy said the crackdown against illegal small-scale miners and gold processors was pursuant to provincial Ordinance No. 7, Series of 2003, known as “An ordinance levying taxes, fees, charges and other impositions on small-scale mining, mineral processing operations, and transporting of mineral ores within the province of South Cotabato and providing the rules and regulations thereof.”

Estimates by the provincial government placed the number of small-scale miners operating in T’boli to have reached 300 and 200 for ball mill or gold processors.

Flaviano said that for many years, the province was not getting taxes from them because they have not filed for permits.

He added that the higher revenues from the mining industry, as a result of the campaign against illegal operators, would help the province improve the delivery of social services to the constituents.

Flaviano said there are still tunnels that “sprout like mushrooms.”

But he said the provincial government is willing to help them make their operation legal, and that is by filing for permits. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)