MANILA, Philippines – Thirteen Chinese nationals and a Filipino were arrested in Camarines Sur on Friday over an alleged illegal mining operation in the town of Lagonoy.
Authorities said the suspects were arrested at around 3 p.m. in a mining area in Sitio Benguet, Barangay Himagtocon through a joint operation by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Sagip Kalikasan.
The arrests came following complaints from several residents of Sitio Benguet that the suspects have been using explosives in its mining operations.
Authorities said explosives were recovered from the site.
“Nu’ng papasok kami sa site may narinig kaming blasting, tapos sabi hindi lang daw sa kanila ‘yun at nang humingi kami ng permit para i-check ‘yung vicinity, doon namin nakita na may mga explosives,” said Echo Tria of Sagip Kalikasan.
The head of Sagip Kalikasan, Jojo Musca, said the amount of explosives seized from the suspects is enough to blast a tall building.
Police, meanwhile, said the group was not able to present documents to prove that their operation was authorized.
“Ang mga bombang ‘yan ginagamit talaga para pasabugin ‘yung tunnel. Mabigat na kaso ang haharapin nila, walang bail ‘yan,” said Senior Inspector Ariel Blanco of Lagonoy PNP.
The suspects, who declined to comment, will face charges of violating Republic Act 9516 or the illegal possession of explosives and illegal mining.
According to authorities, a cease and desist order on the mining operation in the area was issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau last year following an accident involving a Chinese miner. -- Report from Karren Canon, ABS-CBN News Bicol