Arrest vs. illegal miners to take effect October 1

Marje Pelayo   •   September 24, 2018   •   2691

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)

IATF places Cagayan, Apayao, Benguet back to MECQ due to high COVID-19 cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Northern provinces Cagayan, Apayao, and Benguet have reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) after recording high cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The MECQ status will take effect on May 11 until May 23.

As of May 10, Cagayan has 4,657 cases followed by Benguet with 531 and Apayao with 63.

Business operations in the said areas will be limited according to the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

A liquor ban will be implemented while religious gatherings will only be allowed at 10% capacity.  Entertainment and recreational events also be suspended.

Benguet governor Melchor Diclas reported that majority of the COVID-19 cases in their area are severe. Hospitals in Benguet are also in short supply of respirators.

“Dumadami talaga ang mga pasyente natin. Marami ang namamatay at marami ang nagkakasakit ng critical at serious. Ang respirator natin may nagagamit tayong 13 na respirator. Ang bakante nalang ay dalawa,” he said.

(Our patients are increasing. Many have died and many are in critical or serious condition. We have 13 respirators but there are only two available units left.)

Hospitals in Apayao, meanwhile, are at 80% critical level.  In Cagayan Province, Governor Manuel Mamba said Tuguegarao City’s home quarantine setup is still contributing to the rising cases of COVID-19.

“Hindi magiging epektibo ang MECQ sa Tuguegarao City hangga’t may home quarantine,” he said.

(MECQ in Tuguegarao City will not be effective as long as home quarantine is being implemented .)

Mamba continues to reiterate the need to build isolation facilities in Tuguegarao to accommodate COVID-19 patients. AAC (With reports from Marvin Calas)



200 miners and families locked down inside bunkhouse in Itogon, Benguet

Marje Pelayo   •   October 27, 2020

BENGUET PROVINCE, Philippines — A total of 200 miners and their families have been locked down inside a bunkhouse in a mining community in Itogon, Benguet after a number of miners tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The local government and health officials in the area have agreed to subject all bunkhouse occupants to the same COVID-19 management protocols being applied to positive cases.

According to Governor Melchor Diclas, inside the bunkhouse were also the 44 miners who first contracted the disease. 

“Ang nag-positive dyan ay 40 plus another nadagdagan kaya mga 50. Kaya ang decision diyan dahil walang paglalagyan pa na quarantine facility kaya ginawa natin na yung bunkhouse na ang quarantine facility o isolation facility doon, (Around 40 people initially tested positive then the number increased to more than 50. So we decided, since there is no quarantine facility available, the bunkhouse itself will be their quarantine facility or isolation facility),” the governor said. 

All positive cases are confined on the third and fourth floors of the building while those who are not sick occupy the ground floor and second floor as they await the result of their swab tests.

While they are inside the bunkhouse, the local government is currently working on establishing an isolation facility where the infected families will be transferred.

On Thursday (October 22), another 74 miners were among the 93 new COVID-19 cases reported in the province, the highest number since the outbreak started in the Cordillera region.

Most miners and their families who tested positive for the disease were from crowded mining communities of Stio Luneta in Barangay Loacan, Sitio Sangilo in Poblacion, Sitio Balatoc in Virac and Barangay Ampucao.

Overall, the province has reported a total of 872 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 426 of which recovered and 11 died of the disease. MNP (with reports from Grace Doctolero)

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DSWD lauds Benguet town residents for waiving slots in SAP

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 4, 2020

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has lauded the village residents in Benguet for waiving their Social Amelioration Program (SAP) slots.

Thirty-five residents in Barangay Gambang in Bakun, Benguet opted not to receive their emergency cash subsidy under SAP to accommodate more qualified families.

“The individuals’ families were initially targeted as SAP beneficiaries, but they voluntarily waived their slots prior to validation so that other families in need in their communities will be accommodated in the program,” the DSWD said in a statement.

There are a total of 74,369 SAP beneficiaries in the Benguet Province with  2,439 family beneficiaries in the town of Bakun. AAC


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