DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The population in Mt. Diwalwal, Monkayo, Compostela Valley province has decreased to about 11,000 compared to the 100,000 recorded since 1980’s when the area was discovered to be a gold rush site, an official said.
Program Monitoring Coordination Center (PMCC) Regional Coordinator Lawyer Felix Alicer, told reporters in a press conference held at the SM City Davao on Monday, July 10, the population of the area, more popularly known as Diwalwal, has decreased due to the decline of mining operations in the area.
“Reports tell that there is still gold, but it has lessened, that’s also the reason why the population in Diwalwal reduced,” Alicer said.
Alicer cited that the decrease of production and mining operations is a “normal scene” in the mining business since gold and other mineral resources are “exhaustible” and that excavations may have gone too deep that the cause of recovery becomes very difficult.
Since the Lumad’s discovery of gold reserves and gold in the area in 1980’s, thousands of prospectors from the neighboring towns and even from across the country trooped Mt. Diwalwal and started the mining community.
That time, Diwalwal was said to have the “largest gold deposit” in the world according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
However, the gold rush also created problems such as security, sanitation, health, and other environmental damages.
During former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime, the government took control of the 8,100 hectares in the site to address the different and worsening problem in Mt. Diwalwal.
Alicer said the National Task Force Diwalwal (NTFD) was created by then to “provide lasting peace in Diwalwal and to have a sustainable development on the mineral resources in the area.”
Alicer said out of the 8,100 heactares, 729 portion of it is supervised by the Natural Resource Development Corporation (NDRC) and the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC). The NRDC is in-charge of the 600 meters above sea level or the small scale mining operators in the area.
Alicer also attributed the lesser operations in the area because no permits have been issued due to NRDC’s lack of participation in the recent meetings and their lack inventory of the number of small scale operators within the area.
Alicer said they are now requesting the NRDC to give them a list of small scale operators whom they have previously issued a joint-operating agreement (JOA) with, including also those who have no permits so that they may be able to renew permits and continue operations.
“Per record, strictly, there are no mining operations undergoing because permits have already expired. But we are telling the Mining Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to monitor this matter because we suspect that there are illegal operations happening,” Alicer said.
Alicer added that they are suggesting to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to also let the NTFD convene to address the current issues.
“We are strongly suggesting to the secretary to convene the NTFD because these are policy issues, national not only regional. We want to see and revisit the mandate whether the structure of the NTFD and the PMCC is still responsive to the problem or the need of Mt. Diwalwal,”Alicer said.(davaotoday.com)