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ITOGON, Benguet – The ongoing roll out of the ‘big brother, small brother’ program of the Itogon-Suyoc Resources, Inc. (ISRI) that is geared towards providing sustainable sources of livelihood for pocket miners who have been displaced by the temporary suspension of small-scale mining in the Cordillera for nearly three years now was lauded by groups that are directly involved in the said arrangement. Looking through the eyes of the small brothers, Ampucao barangay kagawad Marlon Pettoco, one of the leaders of a group of pocket miners under the umbrella of the Dalicno Small-Scale Miners Association (DASSMA), stated that both the company and the small-scale mining group are still undergoing the necessary adjustments (following the usual birth pains) to ensure the smooth implementation of the noble project that is designed to benefit local pocket miners. DASSMA is the umbrella organization of some eight groups of pocket miners who are now currently participating in the implementation of ISRI’s ‘big brother, small brother’ program.
Pettoco disclosed that the company is finding ways to address the problems that have cropped up on their part while the different groups linked with the DASSMA are also looking for strategies on how to work on the problems that have been traced from their end until such time that the very purpose of the project will be smoothly achieved to serve as a model for such arrangement among concerned mining industry stakeholders in the province.
Pettoco further claimed that both ISRI and the pocket miners are optimistic that the problems that have been encountered in the initial roll out of the project will be resolved through the adjustments that will be undertaken by the concerned parties.
Pettoco recognized the noble intention of ISRI to help in elevating pocket mining operations to a higher level and the desire of the small-scale miners to have a sustainable source of livelihood. He said that the participating groups of pocket miners are grateful that ISRI formulated a program that will help improve the state of pocket mining operations in the locality as they were able to undergo safety trainings that will help them in improving their skills and establishing a sustainable source of livelihood for their families who had been heavily impacted not only by the suspension of small-scale mining operations but also the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. According to him, the ‘big brother, small brother’ program will definitely go a long way in providing sustainable sources of livelihood for the pocket miners. Some 70 pocket miners belonging to the eight sub-groups of the DASSMA are now actively involved in the roll out of ISRI’s ‘big brother, small brother’, working with ISRI to help bring back the vibrance of the small-scale mining industry. By Dexter A. See