Representatives from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region IV CALABARZON, together with those from the National Bureau of Investigation – Environmental Crime Division (NBI-EnCD) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force (DENR-EPETF), apprehended eight individuals for illegal mining within Brgy. Banga, Talisay, Batangas on December 16, 2019. It was then followed by the seizure of the filling materials extracted, specifically sand and gravel, along with the tools, equipment and conveyances used in the illegal operations. The said operations were considered as qualified Theft of Minerals as stipulated in Section 103 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7942, otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

The Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the main legal framework of the mining industry, declares that the state owns all mineral resources in public and private lands within the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of the Philippines. Therefore, the state holds both rights to grant permits for a contractor to be able to mine a certain area, and to revoke, suspend or cancel permits should the contractor violate the said law. As the main agency responsible for the conservation, management, and development of the country’s mineral resources, MGB is obligated to monitor permitted areas, and apprehend those said violators then confiscate/seize illegally sourced minerals, mineral products and paraphernalia such as equipment, tools and conveyances used for the commission of the illegal activity.

Prior to the apprehension, the Provincial Government and Natural Resources Office (PG-ENRO) of Batangas wrote MGB IV CALABARZON requesting for full assistance to address the illegal quarrying operations taking place in the Municipality of Talisay. MGB IV CALABARZON then sought the NBI-EnCD’s full assistance to conduct the investigation in the reported area. Consequently, it also issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to the illegal quarrying operation as requested through a memorandum from the DENR-EPETF. The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENRO) and concurrent Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) issued a certification that “all illegal quarrying operations in the Municipality of Talisay are within the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape (R.A. No. 11038, E-NIPAS Act of 2018)” and that illegal quarrying in Brgy. Banga falls within the land classification of Timberland.

During the investigation, it was confirmed that the respondents were indeed conducting quarry operations without proper permit from MGB IV CALABARZON or the Province of Batangas. The area of extraction was found to be approximately 962 square meters, and the approximate volume of filling materials taken during the apprehension was at least 14,430 cubic meters, with an approximate value of Php 2,468,800.00.

Furthermore, the seized minerals, tools, equipment and conveyances used in the commission of the offense were properly inventoried, photographed and turned over to the custody of two Barangay Councilors of Banga, Talisay, Batangas. The apprehended individuals were brought to the Office of National Bureau of Investigation – Environmental Crime Division, Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila for booking, fingerprinting, medical/physical examination and photographs as standard operating procedure. On December 17, 2019, a Joint-Judicial Affidavit of Arrest was submitted before the Prosecutor General, Department of Justice (DOJ) – Manila, for resolution.

Photo 1. Cease and Desist Order (CDO) sign put up at the entrance of the illegal mine site.
Photo 2. Illegal operations within Brgy. Banga, Talisay, Batangas.

by : Engr. Patrizia S. Benedicto                                   |             28 January 2020