MANKAYAN, Benguet – The mistrust of the indigenous peoples to officials of the local and national governments and line agencies and vice versa is the culprit in fuelling the snowballing opposition to mining in this municipality.
Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang, one of the vice chairpersons of the House committee on natural resources, said one of the best solutions to narrow the gap between the opposition to mining and the mining sector and local officials, is more frequent communication among them to thresh out the issues and concerns and how to solve identified problems in a specific mining community.
“We advised the concerned parties to always communicate with each other whenever there are issues that must be given immediate attention. The problem worsens when each of the parties tends to wait for the other to act that always results in the problem not being given the necessary attention because the discussions will be focused on personalities,” Rep. Mangaoang stressed.
Last week, members of the House committee on natural resources, anti-mining advocates, local officials and representatives from the embattled Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC), as well as other stakeholders, conducted an ocular inspection within the communities believed to have been affected by the company’s operation to validate the complaints from concerned civil society groups and residents on the serious negative effects of mining to the environment, agriculture, health and sources of livelihood of the people in numerous communities traversed by the mining operations.
Mangaoang admitted it is difficult to balance the complaints of the affected communities, the reports from the concerned mining companies, studies from independent groups, among others.
According to him, it will still be an uphill climb for the House committee to work on the possible amendments to the Philippine Mining Act or the enactment of a new mining law.
Mangaoang, who is a geologist by profession, claimed there are some inconsistencies on the complaints of the civil society groups compared to what was actually seen by the members of the committee during the ocular inspection that is why there are still many things that must be reconciled for concerned stakeholders to appreciate the impact of mining on the country.
“The committee hearing and subsequent ocular inspection were the offshoot of House Resolution No. 72 entitled “Resolution Directing the Committee on Natural Resources, The Committee on Ecology, the Committee on Health, the Committee on Agriculture, the Committee on National Cultural Communities and the Committee on Local Government to Conduct a Joint Investigation in Aid of Legislation, on the Impact of Mining in the Country, its Effects to the Environment, Agriculture, the Health of the Public, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its Contribution to Revenues of Local government Units and the National Government and Economic and Social Development, and to Introduce Reform Measures that will Effectively Address the Weaknesses, Shortcomings and Failures of the Mining Act of 1995 and all other Mining Related Laws, Rules, Regulations and Issuances and the Insufficiency or Absence of Institutional Mechanisms for Effective Evaluation and Strict Regulation of Mining Operations in the Country.” By HENT