Cotabato ‘treasure hunt’ halted

KIDAPAWAN City – A local environment officer ordered to stop an unauthorized digging activity in Sitio Malaang, Barangay Poblacion, Makilala, North Cotabato.

Engineer Walter Ruizo, head of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO), issued a cease and desist order on Aug. 8 ending a “treasure hunt” in a lot owned by the 45-year-old resident Cristina Escoto.

Some villagers reported the illegal activity to the MENRO, Ruizo said.

MENRO personnel, Makilala town police head Chief Inspector Johnny Rick Medel and forest ranger Avelino Banac went to the village and found a 20-meter-deep excavation on Esocoto’s lot.

The excavation – which was conducted using a backhoe without permits – was about 20 meters from a riverbank, said Ruizo.

Escoto denied the treasure hunt. She said the excavation was made for a swimming pool construction.

Ruizo reminded the public that unauthorized excavations pose danger to human life and the environment.

“Such digging may trigger soil erosion or landslides,” he said.

The MENRO chief also cited Presidential Decree 1067, which prohibits digging in the so-called “riparian zone” – the boundary between land and a river or stream.

Ruizo said Escoto has agreed to stop the digging and vowed to return the dug soil. (With a report from PNA/PN)


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