by BONG FABE coreespondent
THE Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of Misamis Oriental has been tasked to use the “Lantad template” to coordinate all efforts to stop all illegal mining activities in the province most especially the rampant hydrauliking activities along the Iponan River in the municipality of Opol .
Vice Governor Norris Babiera described the fight to stop all mining activities in the province and city as “another Lantad.” Lantad, a sitio of the village of Kibanban in the municipality of Balingasag, was once a stronghold of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Mindanao. The place bore the brunt of both the military’s anti-NPA “Operation Ahos” and the NPA’s own “Operation Zombie” — in which both sides eliminated suspected infiltrators or deep penetration agents (DPAs) within their ranks.
“We were very successful in Lantad. Why don’t we focus the efforts of the Provincial Peace and Order Council in Opol to stop hydraulic mining activities there? What we did in Lantad we should also do in Opol,” he told this reporter.
Babiera said the mining activities in Opol is “a very complex problem” that needs the efforts of all sectors of society to stop. And the best template for this coordinative effort is Lantad.
“The hydraulic mining operations in Opol are illegal, thus the need for law enforcement. But law enforcement alone cannot stop it. That is why we elevated this very complex problem to the PPOC where everything is coordinated and orchestrated like what we did in Lantad,” said Governor Oscar Moreno.
Moreno’s leadership was pivotal in “conquering” Lantad from the clutches of the Communists. He provided the leadership of the PPOC in “winning the hearts and minds” of its residents — mostly of Higaonon ancestry — by bringing in the full force of the government into the effort. Along with then PPOC co-chairman Ariel C. Hernandez of the Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI), who brought the force of the Civil Society Organizations and church groups into the effort, Lantad was conquered without a single gunshot fired and without bloodshed.
And Moreno, Babiera and Teddy Sabugaa, PPOC executive director, are hellbent on conquering the mining areas of Opol holistically.
“If we can do it in Lantad, there is no reason we cannot do it in any other place,” Moreno once said.
Babiera, however, readily admitted that unlike Lantad — where there was only one enemy, insurgency — the mining problem in Opol is a whole “new territory” for PPOC since it involves a whole spectrum of issues ranging from livelihood to total indifference of the people to the plight of the environment.
“In our Lantad experience, everyone was involved that is why it was easy for us in the Capitol. Besides, we only had one enemy there, insurgency. In Opol, we are dealing with a very complex problem,” he said.
“The problem is very complex that solving it needs collaborative effort between the Municipal council and Provincial council. And we are hoping that Cagayan de Oro will join in this effort since most of the persons operating hydraulic mining are from the city,” he added.
Environment and natural resources officer of Misamis Oriental, Conrado “Dodong” Sescon, has identified 14 persons operating hydraulic machines used in the illegal mining activities along Iponan River, specifically in barangays Bagocboc, Tingalan, Nangcaon and Cauyunan.
Sescon said that all of those doing hydraulicking activities along the Iponan River in the Misamis Oriental side are residents of Cagayan de Oro City. Sescon identified them as Dulper Gayla (of Pagalungan village), Alfredo Mendoza Jr. (Tagpangi), Allan Paredez (Iponan), Rey Tolentino (Tuburan), Odoy Rosales (Tuburan), Ondo Gaupan (Tuburan), Pedro Legaspi (Taglimao), Carmelito Manlinumbay (Pagalungan), Inday Agbu (Buena Oro), Abet Nambatac (Buena Oro), James Tutu (Pinikitan), and a certain Aming of Taglimao.
He also identified two mining operators in Iponan who are residents of of Salawaga, Tingalan, Opol. They are Ronelo Luntayaw and Asor Ibabacor.
Also City Councilor Edgar Cabanlas said Mayor Vicente Emano had used “special permits” to allow mining companies he identified as Dinamet Mining Corporation, Yellow Stone Development Corporation, SNS Metal Trading Corp., White Pearl Asia Corporation, Perfect World Mining Corporation, Javez Hinterland Resources and Cagayan de Oro Finest Metals to operate in Iponan.
Hydraulic mining along the Iponan River is the culprit for the change of color of the river—from pristine green to chocolate brown.
“The waters of Iponan River have also been described as perennially brown because of the uninterrupted hydraulic flush mining over the past decade that has scarred its riverbanks and caused the severe siltation of its riverbed. The outlying barangays of Taglimao, Canitoan, Iponan, Bulua, and Barra have experienced the widespread overflow of this river. Other tributaries affecting the barangays of Cugman and Agusan also need to be safeguarded,” said Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ.