ITOGON, Benguet – Mayor Bernard S. Waclin expressed disappointment on the latest accident involving some three small-scale miners who were safely rescued from a mine site in a remote village in barangay Ampucao last week.
Waclin stated that small-scale miners are fully aware of the prevailing temporary ban on the pocket mining in the Cordillera and the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the COVID-19, pocket miners are forced to go back to their traditional source of livelihood because of the heavy impact inflicted by the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to their sustenance.
He claimed that he personally went to the site upon learning of the mine accident trapping the 3 miners in their working area to ensure that immediate assistance is extended to the rescuers and the miners and to make sure that the situation is under the control of the appropriate authorities.
The local chief executive stipulated that concerned small-scale mining stakeholders are fully aware of the existing ban on pocket mining operations in the region since September 2018 and the ongoing efforts of the local government to make the appropriate representation with the concerned government authorities for the lifting of the said ban so that the tens of thousands of pocket miners can resume their underground activities.
Mayor Waclin described the latest mine accident as isolated because the same happened in a remote village of barangay Ampucao where it is difficult to reach and it took him some time to arrive in the accident site to oversee the rescue operation conducted by law enforcers and members of the rescue team of the Philex Mining Corporation.
He reiterated the call of the concerned government agencies and the municipal government for pocket miners to adhere to the temporary ban on pocket mining activities in the region to avoid similar incidents that may pose a serious threat to their safety and might ruin the ongoing efforts to convince the proper authorities to lift the said ban.
Itogon is one of the 5 first-class municipalities and one of the three towns that rely on mining as their major source of income.
Waclin expressed hope that the latest mine accident will serve as a lesson for other pocket miners not to repeat the same violation to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents.
Itogon hosts the operation of large-scale mining companies such as the Philex Mining Corporation, Benguet Corporation and the Itogon Suyoc Resources, Inc. aside from the small-scale mining operation of tens of thousands of pocket miners who come from various places around the country.
Waclin just assumed as the new mayor of the municipality last July 1, 2022 after being overwhelmingly voted by the town’s electorate to be govern the municipality for the next 3 years.