BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) admitted that the agency is now on the final stages of streamlining the rules and procedures in the declaration of Minahang Bayan sites in various parts of the country to allow the legitimate operation of small-scale mining activities in the different parts of the region.
MGB-CAR Regional Director Engr. Fay W. Apil claimed that the current rules and procedures in the declaration of Minahang Bayan sites are tedious that is why the agency decided to make the necessary revision and streamlining of both processes that will guarantee the declaration of Minahang Bayan sites in various parts of the country after the release of the revised rules and procedures.
“We were able to iron out the problematic areas in the existing rules and procedures for the declaration of Minahang Bayan areas in various parts of the country and we are optimistic that with the release of the revised rules, there will be areas that will be declared for Minahang Bayan by next year,” Apil stressed.
The MGB-CAR official claimed that among the rules that are being revised include when to declare the area as Minahang Bayan and the lifespan of the use of the area as Minahang Bayan considering that the 2-year period is reportedly too short compared to the investments to be infused by the small-scale miners in the operation of the Minahang Bayan sites.
In the Cordillera alone, there are already more than 60 applications for the establishment of Minahang Bayan equitably distributed in the different provinces but no area has yet been declared by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) as a Minahang Bayan area because of the tedious rules and procedures that are being observed by the concerned government agencies prior to the said declaration.
According to her, the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) requirement for the declaration of Minahang Bayan sites was not scrapped from the revised rules and procedures considering that it is part of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) wherein IP communities must issue their consent for the development projects that will be undertaken in their places.
She claimed that the revised rules and procedures for the declaration of Minahang Bayan sites is now investor-friendly and it is geared towards effectively and efficiently addressing the proliferation of illegal small-scale miners in the different parts of the region. It is why the MGB decided to streamline the same to allow the existence of legitimate small-scale mining operations regionwide.
The Cordillera is one of the highly mineralized areas in the country, home to numerous large-scale and small-scale mining operations that are being conducted in the different parts of the region over the past several years.
Apil called on Minahang Bayan applicants to await the eventual release of the revised rules and procedures early next year with the hope that there will be areas around the region declared for Minahang Bayan, to sustain the growth of the lucrative business activity considering the presence of sufficient volume of minerals that could be extracted.