Gerry Oribello of Balbalan local government unit informed that the Balbalan municipal police station headed by Chief of Police PSI Nelson Sad-ang was deputized to enforce the stoppage order.
Dr. Noel Barrientos, provincial environment and natural resources officer, disclosed that personnel of MGB-DENR-Cordillera and Balbalan PNP Station handed on site on October 16 the closure order.
Earlier, Sad-ang, who appeared during the public hearing on the establishment of the Banao Protected Landscape Area, informed locals that the stoppage order was triggered by the incident that happened in the small-scale mining area of Itogon, Benguet where a hundred small-scale miners were buried in a massive landslide.
That incident prompted DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to issue stoppage order to all small-scale mining activities in the Cordillera region to prevent damage of properties and loss of lives especially in small-scale mining communities.
It can be recalled that the 390 hectares area of the small scale mining was segregated from the proposed Banao Protected Landscape Area (BPLA) declared on June 17, 1972 as the Balbalasang National Park (BNP). The presence of settlements and other interventions in the BNP area prompted DENR to amend its title, also as provided in the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (E-NIPAS).
Barrientos said upon approval of Congress, small scale miners can apply for permit to operate as minahang bayan.
Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang filed a bill in Congress seeking approval to grant the Gaang Mines legal entity to operate as a minahang bayan. (JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)