MANKAYAN, Benguet – Municipal officials and small-scale mining associations in the town expressed their all-out support to the efforts of the provincial government to lobby for the lifting of the existing ban on pocket mining as one of the strategic measures to allow the people to be able to recover from the heavy impact of the prevailing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that had been underway over the past ten months.
Mayor Frenzel A. Ayong stated that the proposed resumption of small-scale mining operation in the province is seen as one of the appropriate strategies to allow the heavily impacted residents to be able to establish their stalled economic activities and sources of livelihood to pave the way for them to help in bringing back the vibrance of the local economy as pocket mining is one of the major sources of livelihood of the people, especially in the mineral-rich communities of the municipality.
The 6 upland barangays of the municipality are the identified food basket because of their significant contribution to the agricultural produce being traded in the various markets inside and outside the province while the town’s 6 lower barangays are the mineral-rich areas that host the simultaneous operation of small-scale and large-scale mining prior to the issuance of the order that temporarily suspended pocket mining operations in the Cordillera over two years ago.
The suspension of small-scale mining operations in the region stemmed from the tragic landslide incident that happened at Level 070, Ucab, Itogon where hundreds of pocket miners and members of their families perished at the height of Typhoon Ompong that struck the most parts of Northern Luzon last September 15, 2018.
Mayor Ayong pointed out that the small-scale miners had suffered so much losses because of the temporary suspension of their activities over the past two years, thus, concerned government agencies such as the environment department should start reconsidering the lifting of the aforesaid suspension to help in regaining the vibrance of the local economy as people need such activities to be able to recover from the serious negative impact of the pandemic to their employment, economic activities and sources of livelihood.
According to him, thousands of small-scale miners in the municipality are eagerly awaiting the decision of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on the snowballing clamor from local governments and the affected sector so that they will be able to start their operations with strict adherence to the prevailing implementation of the basic health and safety protocols to avoid the outbreak of the virus from their ranks that could affect the proposed resumption of their lucrative activities.
He lauded the small-scale miners in the municipality for their strict compliance to the orders that had been issued by concerned government agencies that temporarily suspended their operations where most of them shifted their economic activities to farming although the income that they were able to derive from agriculture-related activities was not that substantial compared to their income when they were actively involved in pocket mining activities in their areas. By HENT