Press Release
June 25, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today asked environment and mining authorities to spell out their long-term plan to ensure the livelihood of small-scale miners in the gold-rush areas in Mount Diwalwal in view of their recent order to have these areas vacated due to threat of landslides.

Pimentel, principal author of the Small Scale Mining Act, was reacting to the order of the Mines Geo-Sciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office of Civil Defense and Task Force Diwalwal for 10,500 small miners to immediately evacuate the mining sites in Pantukan and Mt. Diwalwal in Compostela Valley.

The order was issued supposedly to prevent the loss of lives due to the strong possibility of massive landslides caused by continuing rains. Already five miners were believed to have died when they were buried in mud while five others were seriously injured during the landslide in one portion of Mount Diwalwal.

Pimentel said there is more than meets the eye in the order of the authorities for practically all miners to leave the gold-rush areas.

The justification is good. The question is who will now take over the mining claims of the small miners if they comply with the order to evacuate from Mount Diwalwal? What is the governments end game here? he said.

The lone senator from Mindanao said the environment and mining authorities must not only justify the evacuation order but must also explain to the small miners how they intend to utilize the plentiful gold deposits in Mount Diwalwal and ensure that the small miners benefit from such development.

It is not enough for government to say we want to save your lives and therefore you must get out of Diwalwal, Pimentel said.

The government must spell out specific plans to ensure that the mining operations and the interests of the small miners of Mount Diwalwal do not fall into the hands of powerful interests close to the administration, the DENR officials and other confidants of Malacañang .

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