BOKOD, Benguet – Abra Vice Governor and unified Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) chairman Ronald Balao-as urged the environment department and its attached bureaus to intensify the government’s anti-illegal mining campaign in the different parts of the province to curb the proliferation of illegal mining which poses a serious threat to the state of the environment, especially in the ancestral domain of the Masadiit tribe in the upland towns of Abra. Balao-as represented Abra and the unified CPLA during Tuesday’s third quarter joint meeting of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CR) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-CAR and raised the issue on the alleged proliferation of illegal mining within the ancestral domain of the Masadiit tribe that remain unattended to by concerned government agencies to date.
“We have time and again brought the matter on the presence of illegal mining in our province, especially within the ancestral domain of indigenous peoples, but there seems to be no concrete action undertaken on the matter which now causes concern on the effects of illegal mining to the state of the environment and the sources of livelihood of the people in our place,” Balao-as stressed.
Aside from boring hundreds of holes in the mountain slopes, the Abra official claimed that the illegal miners have reportedly resorted to the alleged rampant cutting of trees in their areas of operation which now poses a serious threat to the stability of the areas where the houses of residents are built, thus, the needed immediate action from the concerned government agencies.
According to him, those involved in illegal mining within the ancestral domain of the Masadiit tribe branded them as opposition due to their desire to stop the illegal activities considering its serious negative effects for the state of the environment in the upper towns of Abra.
Vice Governor Balao-as expressed optimism now that the matter has been brought to the attention of the RPOC-CAR and the RDC-CAR, even concerned police and military authorities will take action on the matter to protect the good state of the environment in their ancestral domain which will be passed on to the next generation.
DENR-CR officer-in-charge Ralph Pablo claimed that the agency had been conducting the necessary anti-illegal operations in Abra and that the two pending cases on illegal mining in the local courts are a product of their previous operations but there is a need for collective effort among concerned stakeholders in the province to curb the proliferation of illegal mining in the area.
He assured officials of the Abra provincial government that environment officials will be closely coordinating with the local governments on the matter for the assistance of barangay, municipal, and provincial officials to put a stop on environmentally critical activities which has been going on in the area for decades now.
Pablo claimed concerned barangay officials admitted to them that it is difficult to stop illegal mining because it is the source of livelihood of their constituents considering that there are no other productive activities available in their place.