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)