DENR chief orders stoppage of all small scale mining operations in CAR

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, Sept. 19 (PIA)-- Pocket miners will have to look for other sources of livelihood with  the government’s  issuance  of  cease and desist order  on all small scale mining activities in the Cordillera region following a disaster in the mining town of Itogon, Benguet during the onslaught of typhoon Ompong.

 

In a presscon briefing on  the  Typhoon  Ompong aftermath at the Benguet Capital here on Monday, Department of Environment and Natural  Resources  Secretary Roy  Cimatu  ordered  that all    small scale mining activities including those covered by permits will be temporarily suspended effective immediately  to  avoid further loss of lives  due to  illegal mining.

“To prevent further danger to the lives of small scale miners, I officially order cease and desist order of all illegal small scale mining operations in the whole of the Cordillera Administrative Region,” Cimatu said.

On the ten small-scale mining associations given temporary contracts pending the declaration of a Minahang Bayan,   “I will be revoking those permits starting today,” Cimatu said.

Most of the victims in the landslide incidents during the onslaught of  typhoon Ompong last Saturday in at least two sites    in Itogon   were small scale miners and their families. Based on  the Cordillera  Disaster Risk Reduction  Management Council-DILG update, as of 6:00PM, Sept. 17, there were 57dead and 57 missing in the Cordillera mostly in Itogon with 36 dead and 50 missing. Most of the dead and missing were victims of the landslide in barangay Ucab. 

The Secretary   appealed to   all small scale miners to stop all pocket mining activities   while awaiting the approval and proclamation of Minahang Bayan   applications.

To effect the stoppage of all mining activities in Itogon, he said he   will be sending members of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.

The town of Itogon has a lot of small-scale mining concessions from Benguet Corporation, attracting many people from outside Benguet who are in search of livelihood. There are about 10,000 small scale miners in Itogon alone, according to Bureau of Mines and Geology- Cordillera chief Fay Apil.

With the order,  and considering  that the livelihood of miners and their families  that is mostly affected with the closure of small scale mining  operations, Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan  requested Cimatu  for the  conduct  of  technical conference  with the local government unit  and the  National  Task Force Mining Challenge  to determine the areas where small-scale mining should be stopped as  there are still safe areas  to mine in the area.

Palangdan bared that the site of the Ucab landslide is an abandoned mining area but the Benguet Corporation still maintained ownership of the land. Accidents   have been happening in the area, and then DENR Secretary   Lito Atienza issued a memo order prohibiting small scale mining activities. When he assumed as mayor, Palangdan said he also ordered halt of illegal mining operations and sought the assistance of concerned government agencies, however, mining activities continued. He maintained that   the municipality has some areas   where mining operations can be done and where miners are safe. (JDP-PIA CAR)

 

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