DUMAGUETE CITY – A composite team of Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Army personnel was deployed on Friday to the mining exploration site in Sta. Catalina town, Negros Oriental province to quell the tension between pro- and anti-mining citizens.

This developed after the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) on Thursday afternoon approved a resolution that would secure the area at Sitio Tarug, Barangay San Francisco in Sta. Catalina in response to Mayor Peve Ligan’s request.

It is also in response to a joint resolution of three barangays – San Francisco, Fatima, and Milagrosa – requesting the mayor for police visibility, Jeff Bungcasan, who heads the Task Force Gold Mountain, which the mayor created, told the Philippine News Agency.

The joint team is composed of around 40 personnel from the local and provincial PNP, the Regional Mobile Force-7, and the Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion, Bungcasan said.

“These security forces will be staying there indefinitely as we still have to determine how serious the threat is considering that there are already reports of fighting between those in favor and those who opposed to the mining exploration,” he said in Cebuano.

Ligan on Thursday sought the help of the provincial government after the Midan Corporation started its mining exploration for gold at Sitio Tarug last week.

The Korean-owned corporation has secured a permit from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2018 and a renewal in 2021.

The area covered by the mining exploration is around 884 hectares.

Meanwhile, Vice Governor Manuel “Chaco” Sagarbarria, said in a separate interview that he opposed the mining.

Ligan had sought his help in a closed-door meeting on Thursday.

“That is very damaging to the environment and I have heard many stories of other LGUs (local government units) that it’s been abused, destroying the eco-system and forests,” he said partly in Cebuano.

Only a few selected people can benefit from gold mining, he added.

Sagarbarria said he will assist the Sta. Catalina LGU in its quest to have the mining exploration halted before it is too late. (PNA)