LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) recently declared twelve areas in two towns of the province as potential Minahang Bayan sites pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations crafted for the purpose.
Engr. Lumino Caniteng, president of the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners, said 10 potential Minahang Bayan sites will be located in Itogon while 2 possible Minahang Bayan sites will be in Tuba.
“We are now awaiting the action for validation by the environment department on the declared Minahang Bayan sites for us to proceed with the processing of the required documents needed for the formal declaration of the sites as Minahang Bayan areas,” Caniteng stressed.
The president of the federation disclosed the 12 proposed Minahang Bayan sites in Itogon are equitably distributed in the different barangays, except for barangays Tinongdan and Dalupirip, which are classified as agricultural areas while the Minahang Bayan sites in Tuba are located in barangay Camp 4.
According to him, all the potential Minahang Bayan sites are existing small-scale mining areas to avoid future complications in the declaration of the new places as Minahang Bayan sites in the province.
Caniteng, who is also a member of the PRMB, said the action of the board in declaring the potential Minahang Bayan sites is pursuant to its mandate in identifying the said areas to sustain the lucrative pocket mining industry that the province has been known for over the past several decades.
The federation official reports that small-scale mining is one of the major sources of income of thousands of residents and even migrants in the mineral-rich areas, thus, the need for local governments and concerned government agencies to support the PMRB’s initiative to declare potential Minahang Bayan areas that will help small-scale miners legitimize their activities in the concerned municipalities.
He said more or less 25,000 individuals provincewide rely on small-scale mining as a source of their livelihood that is why it is high time that the clamor to declare Minahang Bayan will be concretized by the environment department after the concerned associations shall have complied with the requirements in legitimizing their small-scale mining area as possible Minahang Bayan site.
Caniteng expressed optimism and admits the stringent requirements imposed by environment officials in the declaration of Minahang Bayan sites, the pending request from the PMRB will be given due course for the sustained livelihood of the residents and migrants alike.
Under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7076 or the Peoples Small Scale Ming Act, the PMRB is empowered to identify and declare potential Minahang Bayan sites within the jurisdiction of the province where it exists.
Caniteng appealed to his fellow small-scale miners to be patient in waiting for the decision of higher environment officials on the PMRB’s resolution declaring the 12 Mianahnang Bayan sites in Itogon and Tuba before making the necessary actions to pursue their applications.