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Camarines Norte police secures disputed mining village

DAET, CAMARINES NORTE—THE POLICE Provincial Office (PPO) here has fielded over 40 police personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Safety Company, together with elements of the PNP station of Jose Panganiban to secure some 200- hectares of disputed iron-ore mining area in barangay Larap in Jose Panganiban town during the weekend.

On Monday (Dec.16), Cam. Norte PNP Provincial director Senior Supt. Moises Pagaduan said the PPO police force shall stay in the area until the tension between two rival mining companies defuses. Threat of violence was noted when the security guards of Yinlu- Bicol Mining Corp. cocked their heavy caliber firearms on the employees of rival firm Investwell Mining Company.

According to Pagaduan, employees of the Investwell wanted to enter forcibly into a mining area of the Yinlu mining firm prompting the guards of the latter to put up barricades to protect their mining area.

The Yinlu mining firm and Investwell are in conflict over mineral rights claim, with Investwell insisting that they have rights to mine in certain areas that are now under the control of Yinlu. This claim resulted in a case that has been long pending in the Supreme Court.

The recent attempt by Investwell employees to enter the Yinlu mining area was due to an alleged decision by the Court of Appeals that is claimed to be favorable to Investwell.

In Sept. this year tension had also developed when Police Chief Supt. Tomas G. Rentoy III, Chief of Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies (SOSIA) issued an order to the Bicol PNP regional office that lawyer for Investwell firm, Atty. Girlie Prado, protested because to him it “was an indirect takeover of the disputed mining area” even while a case is still pending in the Supreme Court.

In 2010, a shoot-out among the hired security guards of Yinlu and Investwell resulted in the death of a personnel of the Jack Security Agency and the wounding of others.

The disputed mining area in barangay Larap in Jose Panganiban town was previously the progressive iron-ore mining area of the Philippine Iron Mines in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Investwell mining firm claims to be holding “a Deed of Assignment” from the original MSPA holder Trans-Asia mining firm that took effect in 2011 covering the 200 hectare iron-rich mining area.

The raging mining controversy is partly being blamed on delayed investigation and disposition of the opposing claims, which are supposed to be done by the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional office in Legazpi City. (SONNY SALES)