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DAVAO CITY, AUGUST 7, 2007 (STAR) By Edith Regalado –

The government has lost more than P2.5 billion in potential income
since it imposed a
mining moratorium in 2002 at the gold-rush site
at Mt. Diwalwal in Monkayo,
Compostela Valley, a village official

“Everything is on a stalemate here at Mt. Diwalwal. The government
has been losing more than P500 million each year since 2002 when it
mining operations in an area 600 meters above sea level,”
Diwalwal barangay captain Franco Tito told The STAR.

Tito said this portion of Mt. Diwalwal is considered to be a
“virgin area” compared to the part 850 meters above sea level that
is nearly
mined out by more than 50,000 small-scale miners.

“Since 2002, when the government stopped their operations, the
miners have to make do only with what they could get out of what
remains of
the 850-meter level area,” he said.

Tito said the area where the mining moratorium was imposed has been
the subject of intense rivalry among major firms operating at
Mt. Diwalwal
such as JB Management Corp. and Helica Mining Co.

But Tito said the P2.5 billion in lost income is just a fraction of
government losses since the extraction of mineral deposits started at
Mt. Diwalwal in the 1980s.

The government has yet to legalize the largely small-scale mining
operations at Mt. Diwalwal.

Tito said it was former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary
Heherson Alvarez who proposed Proclamation 297, which President Arroyo
signed in 2002, declaring Mt. Diwalwal a mineral reservation under the
management of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Alvarez, who was recently appointed chairman of the Philippine Mining
Development Corp., then proceeded to form mining cooperatives, which
were given permits to operate at the 729-hectare mining site under
an 85-15
revenue sharing scheme, in favor of the small-scale miners.

Tito, meanwhile, bewailed the lack of continuity in the
government’s programs at the mining site.

“They keep changing people at the DENR and every now and then,
another program is introduced, so there is no continuity at all in what
government really wants to do at Mt. Diwalwal,” he said.

Tito is also hopeful that the government would soon make true its
promise of constructing a P100-million road leading to the mining site.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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