REGULATORY BODY OKS BENGUET’S ‘MINAHANG BAYAN’ SITE
MINAHANG BAYAN. Resolution 001-2019 of the Benguet Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB) approved on Jan. 15, 2019 identifies the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association’s (LIPMA) area covering 64.6486 hectares in Barangay Loacan, Itogon, Benguet as possible People’s Small Scale Mining Area (PSSMA). Upon completion of the documentary requirement, it will be the first area to be declared as “Minahang Bayan” in Itogon and the whole of Benguet. (Photo courtesy of Dionisio Dennis Jr.)
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) of Benguet has approved the site of a first possible “Minahang Bayan” (community mining area), which will partly legalize the small-scale mining activity in Itogon.
“We are happy that it was approved because it will help the people of Itogon who are already suffering due to the lack of livelihood,” Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said on Friday.
Based on PMRB Resolution 001-2019 issued on January 15, the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association’s (LIPMA) site, covering 64.6486 hectares in Barangay Loacan, Itogon, Benguet, has been declared as a prospective People’s Small-Scale Mining Area (PSSMA).
“(The area) was evaluated and verified by MGB (Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau) central office and subsequently endorsed to the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Secretary for clearance and approval,” the resolution read.
The PMRB’s approval came after DENR Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Rodolfo Garcia issued a clearance to the area applied for by LIPMA as a “Minahang Bayan”.
In approving LIPMA’s application, the resolution, however, noted that there are existing small-scale miners’ associations operating in the area whose rights must be respected and given priority in awarding a small-scale mining contract.
On Sept. 17, 2018, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu issued a cease and desist order on all small-scale mining activities in the Cordillera following a massive landslide in a mining community in Ucab, Itogon Benguet during the height of Typhoon Ompong.
However, Cimatu, during s dialogue in October with more than 5,000 small-scale miners at the DENR regional office in Baguio City, urged the miners to fast-track their “Minahang Bayan” applications, which is the only way their mining activities could be legalized.
Palangdan also expressed hope that the PMRB will issue the temporary small-scale mining permit to the other small-scale miners in Itogon who have identified mining areas prior to “Ompong”.
During their January 15 meeting, Palangdan said the PMRB formulated the terms and conditions for the issuance of temporary small-scale mining permit.
He said the areas near where the recent landslide happened will not be issued the temporary permit as they have been declared as a no man’s land.
“Umiiyak na ang mga tao dito sa Itogon. Problema nila ang ikabubuhay, pati mga anak nila huminto na sa pag-aaral dahil walang pambayad ng tuition (The residents here are suffering. They have problems finding livelihood. Their children have even stopped going to school because there is no money for their tuition),” the mayor said. (PNA)
Photo by Dionisio Dennis Jr./PNA