TUAO, Cagayan: A Mala-cañang official and townmate of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has warned “powerful” politicians who are reportedly involved in the protection of illegal black sand mining in Cagayan.
Manuel Mamba, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, said there is a growing concern in the province about Chinese firms reportedly in cahoots with powerful politicians in illegal black sand mining.
Mamba has likened this illegal activity to jueteng which the police are having difficulty to apprehend due to intervention of politicians protecting them.
Serving in the past as congressman in the province’s third district, he said that the illegal mining operations would not thrive without the “intercession of some powerful politicians.”
“Not only millions of pesos but billions which flows into the pockets of those who abet its illegal operations to the detriment of the environment and the loss of livelihood of the fishing communities,” Mam-ba said.
Newly installed as Cagayan’s Task Force on Black Sand Mining, Mamba said the task force is tasked “to investigate the black sand mining activities in Cagayan as well as act, direct and recommend measures in connection with its operations.”
Mamba said his appointment came amid reports of “unabated illegal extraction of the precious mineral in the country’s northern coastlines camouflaged as Cagayan’s dredging of its rivers and coastlines.”
The Task Force was created by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council under its Technical Working Group on Small-Scale Mining in bid to stop reported problems in black sand mining in Cagayan province.
The Task Force, chaired by Mamba, is composed of representatives from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police, Department of Interior and Local Government and other law enforcement agencies.
“Illegal back sand mining is threatening our coastlines in Caga-yan as well as continue to wreak havoc in the fishing industry. But with the newly organized task force, we hope to stop illegal operators,” Mamba said.
Mamba said that due to lack of an enforcement body, the task force will enforce cease and desist orders against operators who are engaged in illegal black sand mining.
Earlier reports said that black sand mining goes unabated in the Cagayan’s coastal towns of Gonzaga, Buguey, Camalaniu-gan, Lallo and Aparri.
On Thursday, some 18 Chinese in Dodan and Paddaya in Aparri town were rounded up by the NBI and the Mine and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for allegedly conducting illegal black sand mining.
The NBI has turned over the apprehended Chinese to the Bureau of Immigration in Aparri town for verification of their documents.
Mario Ancheta, MGB regional director, said they were working for Huaxia Trading and Mining Corp. which the MGB ordered on Thursday to cease and desist from its extraction of black sand
Ancheta said Huaxia was found out to have been operating beyond its permitted area of operation or within the prohibited zone.
Used as additive in manufacturing concrete and steel products, magnets, paint, ink, paper, jewelry and cosmetics, black sand or magnetite abound along Cagayan’s northern coastlines and commands a high price in foreign markets.