Emphasizing that “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much…“, Regional Director Guillermo A. Molina, Jr. IV of MGB RO-V urged participants to a Joint Meeting of the Regional-Provincial Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (LECC) to sustain collaboration on enforcement of mining and environmental laws in Camarines Norte.
The holding of R/PLECC Joint Meeting in Daet, Camarines Norte on April 14, 2021 was prompted by a recent spate of killings related to terroristic activities as announced by the host PNP, focusing on hotspots traditional mining areas such as Bgy. Dumagmang in Labo, Camarines Norte. A Barangay Kagawad of Dumagmang was killed in a police operation. Not long after, five (5) PNP elements were killed in an encounter within the same barangay.
The PNP-CN has similarly announced the arrest of eighteen (18) persons at Bgy. Dumagmang for alleged illegal small-scale mining. Certain members of the Camarines Norte PNP were duly deputized to police illegal small scale mining activities in the province.
In his presentation, Director Molina gave a bird’s eye view of the current situation of Small Scale Mining in Camarines Norte mentioning that in 2019, there were forty-two (42) Small Scale Mining Sites in the province, twenty-six (26) of which are with Processing Plants. The presence of two (2) Minahang Bayan areas in the Province will ensure that the small-scale mining operation will be made legal, should the small0scale miners apply for a contract, Molina said. He added that there are still 12 other applications/petitions for Minahang Bayan in the Province.
He pointed out further the underlying causes, the roots of lingering issues, among which are 1. Difficulty in securing Permits; 2. Opportunity to gain income; 3. Not aware that it is illegal; 4. Lack of enforcement; 5. Lack of other sources of livelihood; and 6. Lack of basic services.
Having mentioned the current status, Director Molina reminded the Committee members and participants about the reactivation of relevant Sub-Committees constituting various agency representatives and to collaborate on Environmental Law Enforcement on Mining:
- Sub-Committee on Protection of Environment and Natural Resources (Illegal Mining);
- Sub-Committee on Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives;
- Sub-Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (Illegal Logging);
- Sub-Committee on Dangerous Drugs and Controlled Chemicals; and
- Sub-Committee on Financial Fraud and Tax Evasion.
With those standing R/PLECC Sub-Committees, the Regional Director called for a plan for a sustained collaboration on environmental law enforcement on mining and expressed optimism to reduce by half illegal miners in Camarines Norte by end of 2022. A plan of action was proposed stating what must be done within timelines.
The Presiding Officer, RLECC5 Chairman and RD, PRO5 PBGEN Bartolome R. Bustamante, adopted in toto the proposed plan of action as proposed by RD Molina for calendar in the next meeting and for the body to discuss in detail.
Lead in attendance and active participation is the Governor of Camarines Norte, Edgardo A. Tallado, and representatives of various agencies comprising the membership composition of R/PLECC.