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PIA Press Release

Ombudsman Visayas to investigate energy officials

by Roberto M. Cabardo

Cebu City (24 December) -- The Ombudsman Visayas is willing to investigate the allegation of bribery and negligence of some officials of the Department of Energy VII should the relatives of the miners who perished in the mining blast in Dalaguete seek the help of the Ombudsman's office. "They (relatives of the 8 miners who died) can come to me on Tuesday (Dec. 27) so I can attend to them," said Santiago.

R.A. 6770 or the Ombudsman Act provides that the office can investigate any allegation of irregularity involving government employees, and private individuals who conspire with those employed in government in relation to a crime, thereby giving the Ombudsman the investigative and administrative powers. Should the relatives file a complaint against the DOE officials and others allegedly involved in the irregularity, the Ombudsman has the power to look into the allegation.

Meanwhile, in her ocular inspection of the site last week, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Cisneros said, lambasted the DOE personnel in the mining site for giving her a lecture instead of a substantial presentation using the vernacular.

It was about 7:10 p.m. Dec. 10, when a tunnel of Ibalong Resources Development Corporation (formerly Manguerra Mining Corporation) exploded leaving 8 miners trapped in the rubble. Six dead bodies of the 8 miners had been recovered from the tunnel. The explosion was the second to happen this year. DOE 7 Regional Director Antonio Labios said that he did not send rescuers right away because of the presence of methane gas in the tunnel that could be fatal for the rescuers.

Meanwhile, Raydal Cisneros, Administrative Assistant to Dalaguete Mayor Ronald Cesante narrated that the mining company first had an explosion in July. The incident prompted the Local Government Unit to suspend the business permit of Ibalong Resources Development Corporation (IRDC) which was affirmed by the DOE. But few months after, the DOE permitted IRDC to operate again.

Some local officials fear, the incident if not managed well might aggravate the negative perception of some residents on the effect of mining to the community. Last September, Special Envoy on Mining Ambassador Delia Albert was sent by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo here to discuss with the local media and stakeholders the government's advocacy on Responsible Mining.

To date, most of the mine companies in Cebu are into mining of dolomite, limestone, and coal which are non-metallic minerals. Cebu is also home to the once Asia's largest coal mining company, Atlas Consolidated Mining Development Corporation that will hopefully reopen next year. (PIA 7) [top]

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