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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—The mining barges are at it again.
Local environmentalists and reporters, while onboard two choppers of the Philippine Air Force's Technical Operations Group, discovered six mining barges operating in one of the upland barangays of this city, Friday morning.
At least three barges, a mini-loader and a backhoe were spotted operating within the Barangay Tuburan area beside the Iponan River on Friday morning.
Orlan Ravanera, who heads local environmental group Sulog and who was onboard the lead chopper, said he also spotted three more barges upriver of Iponan River. Sulog is a coalition of local environmental groups and socio-political organizations.
“I thought these miners were done operating in the area because of the raid conducted by government agencies a while back. I was appalled to see them operating again,” said Ravanera.
Recently, authorities padlocked a dredger operating in Barangay Pagalungan, this city, after this was used for gold deposits extraction and not just for collecting sand and gravel.
A joint operation by local police and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) discovered the dredger operating near the boundaries of Cagayan de Oro and Opol town, Misamis Oriental. It was one of the six barge-like vessels reportedly operating along the Iponan River.
Ravanera said with their recent video footage and pictures as part of their evidence, they will file a class suit against “anybody who is responsible for letting the mining barges operate again.”
“One Sendong is enough and we should now stop (the) abuse of nature. We call on one and all to take legal action in (a) form of (a) class suit,” he said.
Environmentalists and civil society groups, together with the Roman Catholic Church led by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, agree that mining operations in the hinterland barangays of the city contributed much to the destruction wrought by tropical storm Sendong, late last year.