ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has welcomed a court decision against illegal quarrying in Taal Volcano, a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.

In a two-page decision penned by Judge Librado Chavez, the 5th Municipal Circuit Trial Court in Talisay-Laurel, Batangas Province found Elmer Portugal, Lindley Miranda, Jeremy Caramoan, Gualberto Eser, Calisto Quimio, and Geron Yambing guilty of illegal quarrying and extraction of 14,430 cubic meters of palanas minerals.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) filed the case against the respondents.

Cimatu said the prosecution of the illegal miners is “very timely to inspire the enforcement team to train well and continue this success.”

“After the launch of our special course on enforcement at our Environment and Natural Resources Academy (ENRA), this development serves as a benchmark into making sure that the laws are strictly and properly promulgated,” Cimatu said.

The palanas minerals, with an estimated value of P2.46 million, were extracted in a quarry operation at Barangay Banga in Talisay, Batangas without the necessary permits from the local Provincial Mining Regulatory Board and the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Region IV-A.

The suspects were arrested on Dec. 16, 2019 after being caught in the act of extracting and dumping soil and minerals from an area that is a part of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape and classified as timberland. 

They were charged with violation of Section 103 of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942 and Section 20 NIPAS Act of 1992 or Republic Act No. 7586.

The suspects were ordered to pay a fine of P10,000 each with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. 

DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito Antonio De Leon said the recent accomplishment “can be taken into new heights once the Environment Protection and Enforcement Bill or EPEB is passed.”

“We are seeing promising developments in the area of environmental law enforcement. Hopefully, these developments may inspire our legislators to mark this bill as urgent,” De Leon said. 

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