Technical personnel from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) MIMAROPA Region and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Environmental Crime Division collaborated through a lecture-seminar on April 15 in a bid to harmonize the conduct of investigation, apprehension, and confiscation of resources used in illegal mining activities.
MGB MIMAROPA Regional Director Roland de Jesus underscored the importance of this undertaking in order to meet the objective of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) National Task Force Mining Challenge to ensure the strict implementation of mining policies and other environmental laws.
Mine Management Division Chief Engr. Ellengrace Galiste started off with a backgrounder on the types of permits and contracts and the approving authority based on Republic Act 9742 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2010-21 (Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7942).
As to the policies on the issuance of dredging permit, Engr. Galiste clarified that an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Environmental Management Bureau is required before the secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways issues the said permit.
Atty. Marvin Matamis from the NBI Environmental Crime Division (EnCD) tackled the policies on joint investigation and coordination, while MGB MIMAROPA Legal Officer Atty. Kirby Sagauinit delved into the MGB Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2018-01, or the Guidelines in the Conduct of Apprehension, Seizure, Confiscation and Disposition Illegally Sourced Minerals/Mineral Products and By-Products, Tools, Conveyances and Equipment Used.
Atty. Matamis emphasized that the mandate of MGB as deputized environment and natural resources officers covers the investigation, apprehension, and confiscation of illegally sourced minerals. He said that MGB’s close coordination is vital as the NBI takes charge of the filing of cases and subsequent proceedings.
According to Atty. Matamis, it is very important for the MGB to cooperate during the inventory and seizure of equipment or minerals. He added that the MGB should issue a certification that a certain individual or company has no existing permit to begin with, and an affidavit stating that it has conducted an investigation and verified the subject’s illegal operation.
The NBI personnel pointed out MGB’s visitorial power, and that the Bureau could seek assistance from their agency, local deputized police, or barangay officials in conducting inspection and monitoring.
He shared that some cases are dismissed due to lack of description on seized items, hence the need for a pro-forma seizure receipt with descriptive details on the nature or estimated value of the items or equipment to be seized.
As to the confiscation proceedings that should proceed within 48 hours, he said that the items may be under the temporary custody of the nearby existing permittee in the area, or to the nearest DENR or barangay office.
With regard to the issuance of cease and desist order (CDO), the Regional Office may issue a dismantling order, with a request for NBI to assist in the implementation of such even if there is no ongoing activity on the actual date of operation, if the violator fails to voluntary dismantle within the specified period in the issued CDO. He said that the Office may automatically issue a CDO if there is no existing Minahang Bayan or small-scale mining permit in the area.
For those who applied for permit after the issuance of CDO, the body agreed that the violator should cease its operations pending the said application.
Joint operations against illegal mining operations in the country have been deemed successful after the MGB Central Office issued deputation order to some NBI-EnCD personnel in 2016.
In 2017, the DENR Special Order No. 2017-47 dated January 30, 2017 updated and strengthened the scope of responsibility of NBI-EnCD which now covers “regulatory concerns on illegal logging and other forms of environmental crimes.”