LAOAG CITY, March 15 – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reported that a mining businessman is liable for criminal charges for clearing a forest area without permit resulting in the destruction of undetermined number of trees.
The suspect (whose name was withheld) was found to have started clearing a road leading to a mining site in Sitio Tubeg, in the village of Cabittauran in Nueva Era town without permit.
Juan de los Reyes, Jr., provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the businessman is criminally liable under PD 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.
He said the DENR earlier issued a hold order preventing the applicant from constructing a road due to incomplete documentary requirements.
“Despite previous orders to cease road construction, the businessman proceeded to open at least two kilometers of forest area leading to the mining site,” he said.
De los Reyes said trees were either uprooted or damaged from being covered with boulders and soil due to massive clearing activities alleging that the suspect appeared to have violated environmental laws.
“A creek and its tributaries have been filled with crushed rocks and soil,” De los Reyes said.
The creek is one of the main sources of potable water for Nueva Era residents.
The businessman’s application to mine iron ore is still pending with the DENR. Iron ores are rocks and minerals commonly used as raw materials in making steel. The ores vary in color from red, purple, yellow and dark grey.
During an ocular inspection at the mining site last March 1, a team of DENR representatives said they found that stockpiles of iron ore have been mined and ready for loading. Another pile of the mineral was seen at separate site.
De los Reyes said the area where the minerals were extracted was beyond the site approved by the DENR for small scale mining.
The DENR team seized for custody the suspect’s heavy equipment consisting of payloader and backhoes. (ANL/CCA- PIA)