ITOGON, Benguet – The municipal government will be pursuing with the new leadership the possible lifting of the almost four years ban on pocket mining to help gradually and safely revive the heavily impacted local economy.
Mayor Bernard Waclin stated he will meet with leaders of pocket miners in the municipality to solicit their support in strictly cooperating with the ongoing ban to allow incumbent provincial and municipal officials to be able to lobby with the new environment officials and even President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to lift the temporary suspension on small-scale mining activities in the Cordillera.
He underscored that pocket mining has been one of the major sources of livelihood of a large portion of the population in the municipality that is why the implementation of the ban had really affected the source of livelihood of the people, aside from the aggravating effect caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Aside from heavily impacting the primary source of income of majority of the town’s constituency, the municipal chief executive admitted that the temporary suspension of small-scale mining in the Cordillera also affected the economic activities and other sources of livelihood of the people that caused the significant reduction in the internally generated resources of the municipal government.
According to him, the municipal government will consolidate the various pocket mining groups to reiterate the previous appeal for the immediate lifting of the temporary ban on small-scale mining issued by former Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in September 2018 right after the tragic landside in Level 070 in Ucab barangay caused by Typhoon Ompong where hundreds of pocket miners and their relatives who sought refuge in an abandoned bunkhouse perished.
Waclin underscored the importance of bringing back the major source of livelihood of the people as the pandemic has aggravated the situation of the pocket miners who have had a difficult time trying to find ways to have a sustainable source of livelihood to meet their basic needs.
Itogon is one of the five first-class municipalities and one of the three first class towns in heavily relying on the operation of large-scale mining companies as the source of its revenue.
The mayor expressed hope that the new leadership of the country will heed the long-standing appeal of the tens of thousands of displaced pocket miners and the members of their families for their resumption of their small-scale mining operations as their means of livelihood with strict compliance to the guidelines that may be handed down for the said purpose .
He also commended the pocket miners for their continuous cooperation and understanding to the implementation of the said ban with the commitment to help them lobby for the possible lifting of the same the soonest to pave the way for the resumption of their economic activities.