Bakun pocket miners urged to seek NCIP aid for Minahang Bayan

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BAKUN, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) urged the duly accredited pocket mining association in barangay Gambang to seek the assistance of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) on how to comply with the condition in the endorsement of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) for the eventual operation of the declared Minahang Bayan in the said area.

MGB-CAR regional director Engr. Fay W. Apil said that in the case of the environment department, the group of pocket miners have already complied with the requirements and what remains is either the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) or whatever legal document that will be issued by the NCIP to warrant the operation of the Minahang Bayan which has been pending for several years now.

She explained that the 287-hectare mineral land being applied for in Gambang is identified in the town’s Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) when Bakun was declared an ancestral domain of the Kankanaey, thus, it is now up to the NCIP to take over the process for the issuance of the appropriate document to allow the small-scale mining association complete the process of getting the permits to operation the Minahang Bayan considering that in the case of the environment department, their documents are already complete.

Earlier, the PMRB passed Resolution No. 006, series of 2019, which declared the applied area of Gambang, Bakun, Benguet as People’s Small-Scale Mining Area or Minahang Bayan.

Under existing laws, rules and regulations, the PMRB is authorized to declare and set aside People’s Small-Scale Mining areas as provided by Section 5 of Republic Act 7076, or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act and its implementing rules and regulations.

Earlier, an application for declaration of Minahang Bayan covering an area of 287 hectares located in sitios Bagtangan, Batanes and Gold Star, all within barangay Gambang, was endorsed to the DENR Secretary for clearance and approval.

Further, the PMRB endorsed to the DENR Secretary through Resolution No. 003, series of 1998, during its meeting dated August 13, 1997, for the approval of the declaration of a Minahang Bayan in Bakun town.

The board received a Memorandum dated June 20, 2018 from Rodolfo C. Garcia, DENR Undersecretary, giving clearance to the applied area for declaration as Minahang Bayan subject to the submission of free and prior informed consent from the NCIP  and pursuant to the pertinent provisions of Department Administrative Order No. 2015-03 or the revised implementing rules and regulations of RA 7076.

According to the PMRB resolution, the board found the petition for the declaration of the Minahang Bayan in Barangay Gambang, Bakun, Benguet in order, thus, it also gave its approval to the same.

Apil called on the leaders of the small-scale mining group that filed the said application to seek the necessary advise from concerned NCIP officials on the next steps to be undertaken as the area was already previously identified as such under the ancestral domain owners’ ADSDPP.