DAVAO CITY, Philippines?If small-scale mining normally involves manual labor, what do you call supposedly small-time miners who use heavy equipment?
This is the dilemma the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been facing in Southern Mindanao, says regional director Jim Sampulna.
Sampulna told the Inquirer last Monday that contrary to what the law prescribed, small-scale miners now use heavy equipment such as bulldozers.
?Small-scale miners used to use simple equipment and their hands, but the problem is they are already using sophisticated equipment such as bulldozers,? he said.
But while small-scale miners have potential law violations because of their mechanized operations, the DENR cannot do anything to stop them, Sampulna said.
The violations committed by small-scale mining operators are the lookout of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board, he said.
Sampulna said the DENR has no control either on the transport of ore by small-scale miners because the issuance of ore transport permits is now the function of local government units.
For clustered and component cities, it is the mayor and the governor who issue the permits, respectively, he said.
Sampulna said politicians would, at times, just close their eyes to the violations committed by small-scale miners due to politics.
He said this was the main reason he was supporting proposals by the House committee on environment to return control of small mining operations to the DENR.
Meanwhile, Sampulna said the DENR continues to tighten the implementation of forest protection laws in the region.
He said illegal logging activities were most prevalent in Davao Oriental based on the number of confiscations made by DENR agents.
He said for January up to early December, foresters managed to seize more than 4,600 cubic meters of undocumented forest products from Davao Oriental, which were valued at P14.5 million.