DEC 2-8, 2010

By Cha Monforte

NABUNTURAN- Councilor Mario Angelo “Dodong” Sotto here is moving to strike a win-win solution to the problem brought by the incursion of mining activities in the portions of the 1,700-hectare Mainit Protected Landscape, which was classified before by the government as a National Park.

Nabunturan Councilor Mario Angelo "Dodong" Sotto

“While we need to regulate mining in the area, the PAMB (Protected Area Management Board) cannot move and there are already at least three closure orders in the past that failed to stop mining. If we continue to have no action, the municipal government might one day wake up only doing to retrieve dead bodies due to mining-related disasters,” Councilor Sotto said in an interview.
He recently got approval from the Sangguniang Bayan for the resolution he filed for the creation of the Municipal Multi-Sectoral Task Force to address the situation in the then national park.
“It can be – whether mined portions of national park would be disestablished to tolerate regulated mining or put it under PAMB,” he said.
He added that areas being mined within the Mainit Protected Landscape have the potential of being disestablished from purely environment protection classification and declared as a Minahang Bayan.
About 20 to 30 percent of the area is also inhabited with the long existence of Barangay Bukal, which is “becoming progressive because of mining”, he said.
But the task force, he added, would have to address the concerns of livelihood and of the environmental protection in the area.
The Mainit national park is one of the eco-tourism sites in Compostela Valley Province but in actuality “it could not qualify as one due to rampant usage of explosions brought about by mining operations. (Its) flora and fauna as well as endangered species are already extinct in the said park,” part of Sotto-authored Resolution No. 2010-235-A stated.
The task force would have members from various sectors including the environmentalists, miners, indigenous people, operators of gold processing plants, community leaders in mining villages and various local and national government officials.
Mining activities in Barangays Bukal, Mainit and Tagnocon have in recent months and years shown to have actively flourished following high-grade gold strikes reported by the miners in various old and new mining locations in these barangays.
Mainit, for one, hosts the local government-declared mineral processing zone where at least there are 60 mini and medium carbon-in-pulp cynadation plants, the locals called as plantas, operating to cater for the gold processing of tens of hundreds of tunnels in Bukal, Mainit and Tagnocon areas. Pioneer plantas have been operating for five years now.
Valley & City Chronicle sources said that some of the plantas are owned by Koreans and Japanese nationals investing to at least a P1 million for each their medium-sized plantas.
Reported by miners as new mining areas of this town are Bangkal in Tagnocon, Log Cabin and Kabinuwangan and Alcantara areas in Bukal,and Bugac in Mainit. These areas add up to the long existing mining areas in Saraban and Inupuan and other Minahang Bayan areas in the mountain ranges of Bukal and Mainit.
The Log Cabin area in Bukal was once a lush a tourist attraction in the 60s and 70s with its coolest spring waters mixing in steamy hot spring waters that could cook for hard-boiled egg.
Sources also said that that at one period early this year a miner whose tunnel struck a high-grade gold vein in 200-set underground deep made a weekly harvest of 18 kilos of gold. He has a plant now and has reportedly owned many elegant bungalows in various cities including one in Cebu. The gold content of his gold vein is now reportedly diminishing from a kinilo score.
Barangay officials estimated that about 80 percent of the population in Mainit and Bukal areas combined is dependent to local mining as a livelihood. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)


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