Site of a small-scale mining operation
BENGUET, Philippines – Authorities will launch a crackdown on illegal miners starting October 1.
In an advisory released Monday, September 24, the National Task Force – Mining Challenge (NTF MC) said it will arrest all miners who will continue to operate in mine sites declared for closure under Oplan Itogon.
“(They) will be immediately restrained, read his rights, informed of his violation and brought to police precinct for further questioning and possibly filing of a case against his person,” said PSSupt Lyndon Alimorong Mencio, the Police provincial director in Benguet.
The measure is in line with the stoppage order by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera Region after the tragic landslides that killed a number of residents.
The operation will be implemented by members of NTF MC together with personnel from the Philippine Army, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“May mga technical persons para ayusin ang operasyon towards regulation pa rin,” said Santiago Bugnosen, a member of the Technical Working Group, Mines & Geosciences Bureau.
However, some miners are seemingly confused about the situation.
This is because, according to Engr. Lomino Kaniteng, the president of Benguet Small-Scale Miners Federation (BSSMF), the government has just asked for a list of affected miners once the mine sites are closed.
Kaniteng said around 20,000 miners from 88 associations are likely to suffer job cuts in Benguet. This is apart from other miners living outside of the Cordillera Region.
“Nalilito tayo rito dahil parang hindi coordinated ang gobyerno dito sa stoppage order…because it has domino effect, it affects economics, it affects social, it affects education, it affects livelihood,” said Kaniteng.
What is important for them now is the government’s promise of financial assistance once the stoppage order takes effect on October 1.
“Iyon nga ang pamilya namin, iyong immediate na kailangan gaya ng mga pagkain, kahit merong ibinibigay ang gobyerno, iyong immediate na pang matrikula,” said one miner.
The group will appeal to DENR to reconsider and restudy its stoppage order on complete ban of small-scale mining in the region. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)