ITOGON, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) warned the public against the alleged chemical contamination of waterways in the municipality where the culprits will be dealt with accordingly by the agency.
Further, in her letter addressed to the local government, EMB-CAR regional technical director Maria Victoria Abrera also dissuaded the residents from the consumption of affected fishes or animals due to the reported fish kill in some of the town’s waterways over the past months.
Earlier, several fish kill incidents had been reported to the EMB-CAR in various dates over the past several years that prompted the agency to dispatch its technical personnel to conduct an in-depth investigation on the said matter.
Based on the results of the aforesaid investigation, alleged chemicals were indiscriminately disposed of by small-scale miners in areas near the Ambalanga river that were suspected to have contaminated this tributary of the Agno river that caused the series of fish kill incidents in the said area.
Abrera informed the local government that these were reportedly attested by some residents who reported the alleged illegal activities to the barangay officials of Tinongdan despite the earlier memorandum order issued by former Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan stopping all small-scale mining activities within the municipality.
It could be recalled that a stoppage order was issued on September 28, 2018 by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) to all small-scale miners and operators and mineral processors within the province.
Subsequently, the municipal Task Force on illegal mining of the local government was created through Executive Order No. 4, series of 2019 issued by the former mayor on August 6, 2019. The said task force was supposed to enforce related mining laws and stop illegal mining activities within Itogon.
Abrera enjoined concerned government agencies and local governments to strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations on illegal mining to stop and deter the illegal small-scale mining activities from affecting other people’s source of livelihood.
The said letter was also furnished to the PMRB through Gov. Melchor D. Diclas and other government agencies for their information and appropriate action.
The EMB-CAR assured concerned sectors in the municipality that it will immediately act on reports of fish kill in various areas in the municipality to ascertain the cause of these so that appropriate recommendations can be made for the appropriate action of concerned government agencies and local governments to prevent further damages from the indiscriminate use and disposal of chemicals to the waterways and to the established sources of livelihood of people, especially those living downstream.
Itogon is one of the five first-class municipalities in the province and it relies on mining as the major source of income to sustain the delivery of basic services and implement various high-impact development projects.