LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 28 (PNA) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office here is conducting investigations on the circumstances behind the death two weeks ago of a Chinese national in a reported accident at a mining site in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur.
DOLE regional director Alvin Villamor on Friday said their investigations will focus on the health and safety aspects of the mining operations.
“Our health and safety team is ready to proceed and investigate but the area is still impassable owing to heavy rains that have been causing floods and landslide in the area. They are on a stand-by and will go as soon as the way is cleared,” Villamor said.
To reach the mining site and scene of the incident, he said the team had to negotiate rough roads and mountainous terrains and it is very risky when done under rainy weather condition, he said.
According to belated reports reaching his office, Villamor said Chinese national Chen Te Hao was killed last January 6 when a huge boulder smashed into his head during a clearing operation at the mining in Barangay Himagtokon, Lagonoy, a far-flung village listed by the military as communist rebel infested.
Chen was employed by Prime Rock Mining Corporation that is engaged in a small-scale mining operations in the same village said to be rich in gold, copper and silver, Villamor said.
Based on DOLE records, he said the victim was a holder of an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) issued by DOLE-National Capital Region and has been in the country for some time.
“Our investigation team headed by Engrs. Rey Imperial and Roberto Aranas will be joining their counterparts from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that is also conducting their own investigations on the incident,” the DOLE regional chief said.
The operations of Prime Rock in the area, according to records of the Philippine National Police regional office at Camp Gen Simeon Ola here, was the center of controversy late last year when another mining firm operating adjacent to its site complained about its blasting operations that are prohibited under its small-scale mining permit issued by the provincial government.
MGB Regional Director Reynulfo Juan on the other hand said the Prime Rock mining operations was illegal because it has no permit from his agency even as the provincial government has issued a small-scale mining permit to it.
The provincial mining permit was issued to a certain Benito Salandanan on July 30, 2010 by Vice Gov. Fortunato Peña, in behalf of Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. who was then out of the country, Juan said.
Juan said Prime Rock supposedly has an arrangement with Bicol Chromite, a mining company with exploration permit in the area.
Police Supt. Adelio Benjamin Castillo, chief of regional operations and plans division of the PNP, said that Alejandro G. Cruz-Herrera, president of Agbiag Mining and Development Corporation had claimed that Prime Rock had been encroaching inside their company’s mining area.
Herrera late on November 2010 complained to the police on the blasting operations of Prime Rock inside his firm’s territory, Castillo said.
“We are not concerned about this controversy however as our only purpose in our investigations is to determine the health and safety standards being adopted by the mining firm in the area. Should we find out that there are lapses that caused the death of Chinese national, then, we will impose sanction,” Villamor added. (PNA)