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ITOGON, Benguet– The municipal government will support any initiative from both the concerned government agencies and the private sector to revive the lucrative small-scale mining operation in the municipality as almost eighty percent of the town’s population that rely on pocket mining had been displaced from their main source of livelihood since Supertyphoon Ompong nearly two years ago.
Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan, in an interview aired over RPN-DZBS Baguio’s One for the Road afternoon program, said the proposed ‘big brother, small brother’ concept being proposed by the private sector to bring back the vibrance of the small-scale mining industry is aligned with existing mining laws.
He added if there are available remedies under existing mining laws that will allow the resumption of operation of small-scale mining in the municipality, those will be a welcome development for both the municipal government, and probably most of the pocket miners whose their main livelihood had not only been impacted by the suspension of small-scale mining, but also the failure of the environment department to act on their appeal for resumption of operations and the recent implementation of the Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The municipal chief executive admitted there are small-scale mining groups who are in favor of the aforesaid arrangement, but, there are also associations against, thus, the need to conduct continuous engagements with them to convince the affected sector that the concept will be the best way to resume their activities underground.
However, the mayor asserted that it is important for the proponents of such concept to ensure the sustainable preservation and protection of the environment as the municipal government does not want that there will be some sectors reaping the fruits of the extraction of the natural resources, while there will be people in the lowlands who will be going hungry because the rivers that serve as their main source of livelihood are silted and polluted.
According to him, studies show that the Agno and Ambalanga Rivers are already heavily polluted that is why fishing along the stretch of the bodies of water up to the lowlands are no longer feasible.
Under the ‘big brother, small brother’ concept, large-scale mining companies will extend utmost assistance to the small-scale miners to ensure their compliance to basic safety, health and environment standards through agreements with the different associations and that the groups will serve as their partners in the operation of both large and small-scale mining within the desired areas in the locality.
Mayor Palangdan emphasized the people in the municipality are now in dire need of livelihood, such as the possible resumption of pocket mining, because it had been very difficult for them to recover from the slump on the industry inflicted by natural calamities that struck the municipality over the past two years. By Hent