APARRI, Cagayan: The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the filing of charges against 23 Chinese for alleged illegal extraction of black sand along this town’s coastlines.
In a resolution, the Cagayan state prosecutor’s office said there is a probable cause to charge the Chinese involved in the theft of some 150 metric tons of black sand from Paddaya and Dodan villages here in August.
Rommel Baligod, regional state prosecutor, said the six-page resolution dated January 6 has reversed an earlier motion of the Cagayan prosecutor’s office dismissing charges of illegal mining against the Chinese and Filipino counterparts “for lack of probable cause.”
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Caraga apprehended and filed criminal charges against the Chinese and three Filipinos, who face charges of violating Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995 particularly on the illegal extraction and disposition of minerals.
The Chinese were identified as Wang Wendong, Yang Yonglian, MaPeihua, Zhu Liren, Hou Linlin, Fu Yujun, Xiao Peibao, Li Wenyong, Li Liming, Jin Dejun, Li Laijie, Wang Chengqiang, Jiang Bin, Lin Quiang, Xu Jianjun, Jiang Bin, Lin Quing, Xi Jianjun, Jiang Nan, Zheng Feng, Wang Gongliang, Gao Dejun and Zhang Deliang.
The Filipinos charged were identified as Rebecca Gregorio, Atanacio Hipolito and Alejandro Fernandez who were reportedly among the officers of the Hua Xia Mining and Trading Corp. The Chinese were working in this corporation when arrested by NBI operatives in collaboration with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
The respondents were caught constructing mineral processing plants and extracting magnetite sands near the seashore in the two Aparri villages.
In November, the NBI elevated the case to the regional prosecutor’s office following its dismissal from Cagayan’s provincial prosecutor.
Baligod said: “[T]he resolution of the [Cagayan prosecutor’s office] dated October 18, 2013, is hereby partly modified in that we find the existence of a probable cause to charge respondents for conspiring and conniving to violate Section 103 of RA 7942 [Mining Act of 1995].”
The resolution said: “It is beyond dispute that respondents extracted about 150 metric tons of magnetized sand [black sand]from the shores of Aparri and then transferred and stockpiled them in their processing plant inland for processing. Such act constitutes theft of minerals under the Mining Act.”
Extraction of black sand has been going on for years in northern Cagayan coast
Amid opposition from the Church and anti-mining groups claiming that such activities would endanger the residents to floods and erosions.
Used as an additive in the manufacture of concrete and steel products, magnets, paint, ink, paper, jewelry and cosmetics, black sand or magnetite is a very lucrative commodity in foreign markets like in China and Taiwan.
Magnetite extractions are also taking place in other parts of the country’s coastlines such as in the Ilocos region and Zambales and the Visayas.