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PIA Press Release

Local gov't to look into mining operations in Agusan del Sur

Butuan City (1 February) -- The legislative body of Agusan del Sur has assured the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that it will look into the permits of small-scale mining operators in the 200,000-hectare mining areas in the landlocked province.

Vice Gov. Santiago B. Cane, chair of the provincial legislative body, said on Friday he will specifically look into the mining operations at Manhulayan area in Barangay La Purisima, Prosperidad town where many small-scale mining operations are being reported.

Cane made the assurance after learning that Mahulayan area is where several killings were reported last year between Manobo clans and other groups, mostly indigenous people (IPs).

This development came out during the last day of the two-day public inquiry of the CHR on the root causes of alleged killings and hostage-taking last Dec. 10, 2009, where 57 civilians were victims in La Purisima. The hostages were released unharmed after negotiation with Ondo Perez, the alleged leader of the hostage-takers. However, the Perez group members, some of them minors, were put in jail in Agusan del Sur jail after their surrender.

In the CHR inquiry, it also came out that the two warring Manobo clans ?- Perez group and Joel Tubay group (still at large) -- are both armed with high-powered firearms and have existing warrants of arrests due to their alleged tribal war.

Aside from ancestral land problem, gold mining operations also surfaced as one of the root causes of the breakdown of the peace and order in the area.

It also came out that illegal logging operation also exists in that same area.

"The provincial board will look into these mining permits of operators," Cane said before the panel of CHR led by CHR Chairperson Leila De Lima and other government lawyers and representatives from various concerned government agencies, military and police commanders.

Cane also assured that the provincial board will help the CHR to investigate and look into the mining permits of the small-scale mining operations.

During the same inquiry, Col. Emiliano Gupana, commanding officer of the Army's 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, also confirmed the involvement in the mining operations of some natives in Manhulayan.

Gupana also confirmed that some members of the groups of Perez and Tubay were formerly affiliated with the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) assigned in the area but already disbanded in 2008. (muc/PIA-Caraga) [top]

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