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ITOGON, Benguet – The municipal government opposed the more or less ninety nine mining claims of the Benguet Corporation (BC) because the thousands of areas covered by the same are already not feasible for mineral operations.
Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan stated that both the executive and legislative branches of the local government are united in their efforts not to allow the municipal assessor to renew the tax declarations of the mining company over the aforesaid claims as most of these areas are actually built-up areas and within watershed reservations which are not allowed for the conduct of mining operations.
He pointed out that the decision of the municipal government is aligned with the earlier arguments of the environment department in out rightly rejecting the applications of pocket miners for the declaration of some areas in the municipality as Minahang Bayan sites as the desired areas proposed for small-scale mining operations are within declared watershed reservations.
The l municipal chief executive questioned the decision of the environment department in denying the applications of pocket mining associations for the declaration of Minahang Bayan sites for the reason that the applied areas are within watershed reservations, saying that what could be the reason why large-scale mining companies operating in the municipality were permitted to operate in places that are also within watershed reservations.
According to him, municipal officials are awaiting the actions of the mining company on its decision not to renew the tax declarations of the firm covering thousands of hectares of mineral lands in the municipality that are already built-up areas.
Mayor Palangdan asserted that under existing laws, rules and regulations, the conduct of mining operations within built up areas are prohibited and there is no reason for the company to pursue the conduct of mining operations in the said places.
BC is the oldest mining company that had operated in the province having started its large-scale mining activities in 1903 before ceasing operations in 1993. It now operates its Acupan Mine through small-scale contract mining with small-scale mining associations from the locality.
The mayor stipulated that the situation in the municipality is totally different from the previous years because there are already numerous built-up areas due to the increasing migration of people in the different parts of the municipality, thus, there is no reason to allow large-scale mining operations in the said places.
He emphasized the urgent need to further enhance the implementation of environmental preservation and protection activities to ensure the good state of the town’s environment and avoid environmental disasters.
Palangdan disclosed that the living condition of the municipality is totally different since the environment department temporarily suspended the conduct of small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera after the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong nearly 3 years ago that caused tens of thousands of pocket miners to lose their established sources of livelihood. By HENT