DENR opens opportunities for Benguet miners after bunkhouse tragedy

Marje Pelayo   •   September 19, 2018   •   3353

File photo of mining site

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said there are around 500 miners from 10 small-scale mining companies in Benguet who are considered legal and have acquired special authority from the agency.

However, over 1,000 miners are considered illegal and the DENR is offering help to encourage them to refrain from illegal mining activities.

The agency has opened some livelihood projects in Itogon, Benguet to help the affected miners.

The programs include the national greening program, the ‘cash for work’ program and a campaign that will employ “Bantay Gubat” officers.

“Kaya it’s really a pity na mawalan ito ng hanap buhay. In order for them naman na ma prevent ang loss of lives naman in the future pwede na siguro if they can find another livelihood in this area sa kanilang mga probinsya na lang,” said DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Still, the DENR said they can only do little as major part of the mining site is privately owned.

“The mining company… it’s their responsibility to guard their property because its patented mining claim and parang titulo na yan na they own the mines and surface,” said Regional Director Faye Hapil of the DENR Mines and Geoscience Bureau.

Because of the geohazard situation in Barangay Ucab, the DENR ordered the demolition of the bunkhouses in the area. However, the miners chose to stay until the tragedy.

The incident prompted the agency to immediately order a stop on all small-scale mining in the area.

“We will reiterate na we have been doing our job here in DENR we issued stoppage orders, the local government were properly informed of the hazardous situation in the said area but sad to say this thing occurred” said Usec. Benny Antiporda of the DENR Solid Waste Management Bureau. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from JL Asayo)

Fatal landslide in Brgy. Runruno, N. Vizcaya caused by severe weather, not mining – MGB

Marje Pelayo   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ruled out mining activity as the cause of the landslide that occurred in Brgy. Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya on November 11 during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

In a press release Thursday (November 26), MGB Regional Director Mario Ancheta, “the fatal landslide was triggered by the inclement weather conditions resulting in ground saturation and eventual landslide and not due to small scale mining activity as earlier reported.”

Geologists and technical personnel from MGB Region 2 were sent to conduct a site inspection at the landslide areas where ten individuals were killed, including a two-month old baby and leaving two others injured.

Ancheta added that residents were already recommended for relocation based on a geohazard assessment result conducted by the MGB on September 18, showing that Sitios Bit-ang, Balcony, Compound, and Kinalabasa are highly or critically susceptible to natural hazards.

“The result of the assessment was presented to the community including the residents of sitio Bit-ang, Compound, Balcony, and Kinalabasa,” Ancheta said.

After the incident, the official stressed that “evacuation of the illegal settlers within the landslide prone areas should be strictly implemented.” MNP / Raymund David

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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