Cimatu blasts mine tunnels that intrude into PMA reservation

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu literally had a blast on Valentine’s Day.

He led in the blasting of 18 mine tunnels in Barangay Kias in Baguio City which he had ordered closed over the weekend.

These mining tunnels had intruded into the Philippine Military Academy reservation and caused some areas to collapse within the academy, he said. The area of the blast was at the border of the PMA and an ancestral claim.

The blasting served as the formal launch of the National Task Force on Mining Challenge, which Cimatu initiated.

He said the idea came after he visited his alma mater, the PMA, last November.

“I was at the grandstand when I noticed that the left side of Borromeo Field eroded. I asked it it was erosion and they said it was the result of mine tunneling. These are operations of miners violating the mining and environmental laws,” he said.

He made an inspection of the area in Kias and saw that illegal mining is prevalent in the area.

“One miner almost died there last month. This could have been prevented if they are regulated,” he said.

A bigger effect is environmental degradation. Cimatu said the illegal mines, which they closed and inventoried, showed that the miners had been using sodium cyanide, which is highly toxic.

The task force, which comprises more than 100 members, will see to it that the mining laws would be strictly implemented.

Paquito Moreno, the assistant head of the task force, said that they would be looking into illegal mining operation in Benguet, Abra, Mountain Province, and Kalinga in the Cordillera, and in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino provinces in Cagayan Valley. –