BAGUIO CITY – Seven areas in the Cordillera are being eyed as potential Minahang Bayan sites once small-scale mining associations are able to perfect the prescribed commentary requirements for their legitimate operation.
Engr. Fay W. Apil, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR), stated that it is only the Luacan Indigenous Pocket Miners Association (LIPMA) in Itogon, Benguet that is able to operate while the small-scale mining association in Fedilisan, Sagada, Mountain Province is awaiting the finalization of its small-scale mining contract to allow the group to proceed with securing the free and prior informed consent if the indigenous peoples in their area of operation.
Further, she added that there is already a declared small-scale mining area in Camp 6, Tuba, Benguet while the proposed pocket mining site in Taneg, Mankayan, Benguet is awaiting the completion of appropriate documents before being cleared and declared as such.
The MGB-CAR official disclosed that there are also 2 small-scale mining sites in Conner, Apayao that had already been declared while one pocket mining area in Calanasan town is awaiting clearance and future declaration.
In Abra, she claimed that there is also a small-scale mining area in Licuan-Baay that is awaiting clearance and declaration to allow the applicant to pursue the legitimate conduct of pocket mining operation in their applied area.
Director Apil stipulated that the agency is fastracking the clearance and declaration of potential Minahang Bayan sites in the different parts of the region pursuant to revised rules and regulations so that the interested small-scale mining associations will be able to proceed with their respective applications to avoid unnecessary delays as the requirement for the free and prior informed consent of the indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples will only be imposed as one of the requirements of their small-scale mining contracts.
According to her, instead of lifting the temporary ban imposed on small-scale mining in the region, it is best to fastrack the processing of the pending Minahang Bayan applications so that the conduct of pocket mining will be regulated for the safety of the miners and the sustainable preservation and protection of the environment as the applicants are required to secure the necessary environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
Earlier, there were some 70 applications that were submitted by different pocket mining associations for them to establish their respective Minahang Bayan sites in the different provinces following the temporary suspension that was issued by the environment department against small-scale mining activities after the tragic landslide incident that transpired in Ucab, Itogon, Benguet on September 15, 2017 right at the height of Typhoon Ompong.
Apil revealed that there is also a small-scale mining association that is interested to establish a pocket mining site in Bakun, Benguet but the applicant has not yet completed the requirements for the same that is why the application is still pending with the agency awaiting whatever action that will be done by the applicant.
She stipulated that the agency saw the importance of allowing the pending small-scale mining associations to move to avoid unnecessary delays that will have an impact on the source of livelihood of the pocket miners. By HENT