ITOGON, Benguet – The management of the Benguet Corporation (BC) was able to identify a relocation site within its Virac timberyard for the 46 families that were affected by the subsidence of a portion of its mining claims within Camanggaan at the height of Typhoon Lando last year.
Lawyer Froilan Lawilao, BC administration department manager, said that the 11.6-hectare relocation site was identified by the company as part of its corporate social responsibility and to guarantee the safety of residents within its mining claims and not for other purposes that may alluded to it.
“We just want to make sure that people living within our mining claims will not be exposed to the dangers of the trade that is why we are offering the affected residents with the available relocation site. We should not add color to the company’s offer for a relocation site to the affected residents which is purely voluntary.” Lawilao stressed.
It can be recalled that at the height of Typhoon Lando, a huge portion of the company’s mining claims within Camanggaan, Virac suddenly sunk that affected the residences of some 46 families who erected their residences in the said area.
As a result of the subsidence, various groups were commissioned to conduct a study on the real cause of the subsidence. Based on the results of the ad hoc committee commissioned by the municipal government, it was recommended that the company will pay damages to the affected residents because the alleged subsidence was triggered by its drain tunnels located underneath which had not been properly maintained.
However, the report of experts from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the University of the Philippines – National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) found out that the weathering of the soil and rock formations in the area aggravated by the continuous heavy downpour and the huge volume of water triggered the subsidence.
While the company respects the findings of the ad hoc committee formed by the municipal government, Lawilao explained there are other official scientific studies conducted by experts that have categorically pinpointed the cause of the subsidence and that appropriate measures were recommended in order to mitigate the occurrence of the same in the future, thus, the company is obliged to comply with such findings from the regulating agencies concerned.
Lawilao appealed to all stakeholders to avoid finger pointing in such cases but instead such issues and concerns must be effectively and efficiently addressed through their collective efforts so that sensitive matters will be dealt with accordingly upon consultation with all involved sectors of the community.
“We solicit the active involvement of all concerned stakeholders in formulating appropriate solutions to issues and concerns that arise in our areas of operation. We must be able to consult with all concerned sectors so that all their concerns will be addressed before we act on such problems,” Lawilao added.
He cited the best solutions to the problems of mining communities is for all sectors to be involved in consultations that will be called for such purpose and for everyone to be involved in the solution of the problem for the welfare of the present and future generations.
By Dexter A. See