South Cotabato officials are pushing for the creation of a multi-agency task group that would spearhead the operations against the rampant illegal small-scale mining activities within the mines development site of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan town.
South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said the task group will mainly lead the crackdown against illegal mining activities and set up a detachment that would enforce a no-entry policy within SMI’s copper and gold mining area.
The task group will be composed of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Provincial Environmental Management Office, the local government unit of Tampakan, police and the military, he said.
The governor said the company supported such move and initially promised to help in the maintenance of the outpost through food and allowances to members of the paramilitary Civilian Volunteers’ Organization that would be assigned there.
“They’re (SMI) more than willing to support us (in curbing the illegal mining operations),” said Pingoy, referring to the illegal sluice mining activities in the area.
John Arnaldo, SMI corporate communications manager, admitted the company could not protect its mines development area from illegal miners because the company “lacks the authority.”