SANTIAGO CITY, Isabela—Gold bars produced in the test run of the Runruno mine’s gold processing plant here were shipped out immediately due to “security concerns,” a government bureau director said.
FCF Minerals Corp., the Philippine subsidiary of UK mining firm Metals Exploration PLC, is now on the final stages of “debugging” its gold processing plant in Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya.
During the “Environment Month Forum” held at the Zen Hotel here on Thursday, Regional Director Mario Ancheta of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office 2 responded to an inquiry about helicopters landing in Runruno, reportedly to fetch an unspecified amount of gold bars.
“While the formal declaration of commercial operation is underway, we saw helicopters landing in the Runruno mine site. We heard they are already transporting gold bars. Are they allowed to do that?” Josie Guillao, a Runruno resident, asked the MGB during the open forum.
“We approved the request of FCF to ship out gold produced in the test run due to security concerns. Of course, corresponding taxes were all paid. The Bureau of Customs has properly documented the shipment,” Ancheta responded.
In the past few months, the communist New People’s Army raided several police outposts in the Cagayan Valley region, including an attack on a police station in Maddela, Quirino where a cop was killed.
Ancheta mentioned an “unguarded back” around large-scale mine sites in the region, referring to NPA guerrillas believed to be hiding in mountainous barangays not being effectively reached by government forces.
Despite the on-and-off peace talks with the Duterte administration, the Communist Party of the Philippines-led NPA fighters have continued their raids in Cagayan province recently.
Reports about a siege in the house of a certain Dexter Remodaro, whom the NPA accused of being a military spy, in Barangay San Jose in Baggao town broke out in the local mass media on Tuesday.
In a statement, the NPA-Cagayan admitted to launching the “ambushes” in Baggao on Sunday and Gattaran on Monday.
The attack in Baggao allegedly killed two intelligence operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. “Two military intelligence were killed and six more were wounded after a ten-minute firefight ensued,” the NPA said in their statement quoted by a local newspaper.
Local police have denied the NPA claim.