THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it apprehended 14 illegal miners in Barangay Waan, Davao City on Dec. 11.

In a statement on Monday, the DENR said the operation was carried out by its Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS), which seized unlicensed equipment apart from arresting the persons engaged in unauthorized quarrying.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the operation was designed to “deter potential culprits and discourage them from violating existing environmental laws.”

In March, Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio had issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) after the quarry operators ignored previous CDOs issued between 2018 and 2020.

Environment Undersecretary Benito T. de Leon said the “continual success of the ELEPS operations proves that the DENR needs an enforcement bureau.”

ELEPS handles illegal quarrying cases, including unauthorized operations inside the Taal Volcano Protected Area Landscape.

The miners are charged with violating the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

On Dec. 23, the government lifted the four-year ban on open-pit mining. The DENR said on Dec. 29 that the removal of the ban is not expected to hinder enforcement efforts against illegal miners.

“The lifting of the open-pit ban does not… result in more illegal miners because their areas are separate from that of the large-scale miners,” Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Wilfredo G. Moncano said. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson