"There is a need to urgently address this matter through continuous and consistent meetings for our residents, their livelihoods and the environment. In behalf of the people of Compostela Valley, I strongly urge the Task Force Diwalwal to convene. Let's fix this problem once and for all," Governor Uy emphasized.
Created under Executive Order No 217, NTFD is established, among others, to create an environment conducive to lasting peace and sustainable development in Diwalwal and its environs.
Governor Uy stressed that even though that the implementing arm of NTFD, which is the Program Monitoring and Coordination Committee (PMCC), is very active in addressing local issues, they need the NTFD to move in the national level and create a comprehensive plan for the development of the mountain, which is con containing the biggest gold reserve in the country according to the data of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
“We can only do so much in the PMCC level; we need now the NTFD to act according to its mandate for the betterment of the community in Mount Diwata,” the governor said.
During the meetings of the PMCC, Monkayo Mayor Ramil Gentugaya and other local officials supported the call of the governor.
According to the secretariat of the PMCC, the NTF Diwalwal did not convene in 2017.
Among the local issues faced by the PMCC is the transfer of the ball mill and carbon in pulp (CIP) operations at the processing zone at the Mabatas area in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley province.
It was on August 2002 that then Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Heherson Alvarez issued DENR Administrative Order 2002-18 imposing the stoppage of mining and mineral processing activities of major operators in Diwalwal due to health and safety hazards and environmental degradation and transferring the same to the Mabatas area.
According to the administrative order, the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO) and other entities confirmed the rising levels of mercury and serious siltation incidents in Diwalwal.
During the Kapihan sa PIA, PMCC Coordinator Atty. Felix Alicer said the transfer to Mabatas area has been planned for years but it was only last year when the provincial government of Compostela Valley took the responsibility in preparing the area and developing the road network.
According to Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Eugene Alaba, the provincial government has committed PhP1.5 million for the land preparation and road network development; however, as of now, more than PhP4 million has already been shelled out for labor, equipment rental and fuel.
The municipal government of Monkayo has also assisted in the land preparation and road rehabilitation through the utilization of their heavy equipment.
Alaba said that for now, the land preparation has already been accomplished and the road network development is still on-going.
He added that more funding is still needed to complete the Mabatas area, including the power lines.
On the side of the operators, Mount Diwata Barangay Captain Pedro Samillano said that most of the operators agreed to the transfer as long as it is ready for their livelihood. Ore processing is the main livelihood in Barangay Mount Diwata with a population of around 10,000 people. (PIA11, Michael Uy)
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