SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur — Six Chinese nationals were arrested on Saturday night for their alleged involvement in illegal mining operation near Mt. Magdiwata watershed that destroyed the waterways of a river in a remote village of this town.
Police could not yet ascertain the identities of the suspects since only two of them presented identification cards from the Bureau of Immigration that already expired last May.
Another Chinese national known as Jason Lu, believed to be the “big boss” and co-financier, managed to escape.
Two local residents who worked with them positively identified the suspects, now detained at the town jail, after they accompanied operatives to raid their residence at the town center.
Senior Inspector Ephraim Detuya, local police chief, said they would file on Monday formal charges against the Chinese nationals for violation of the mining act while awaiting information from the immigration bureau about their status in staying in the country.
The arrest came after a two-day raid by a joint team of police and staff of Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office at the illegal mine site in Mati village that contaminated and depleted the source of potable water and irrigation for rice fields in nearby Maligaya village.
The team confiscated a backhoe used to excavate and destroy the riverbed and banks, a power-generating set, steel pipes used to suction water, sand and gravel towards the mine tailings pond and other mining equipment.
The suspects managed to scamper away during the raid but the two Filipino workers cooperated with investigators to locate them.
Located just a kilometer away from the Magdiwata watershed, the 24-hour mining activities, which started barely a month ago has left an extensive damage to the river banks as the Chinese miners dug up the area with backhoes in an effort to follow the gold vein.
A security guard, whose identity police have withheld pending investigation, said a Chinese chemist used a pinkish liquid to easily separate the gold from other minerals while being processed at the tailings pond but the chemical brought from China was believed to be more toxic.
The guard disclosed that the mining operation was intensified after the miners started extracting at least 100 grams of gold a day.