Sustainable livelihood needed for hinterland folks

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014


IF RESIDENTS in the hinterland barangays will not have other sources for livelihood, chances for them to return to illegal activities like mining and logging are high, said Edwin Dael, chief of the City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro).

Dael said the livelihood of those who were engaged in mining have been assured through the reforestation project in the hinterland communities.

Councilor Zaldy Ocon told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that the City Government should provide equipment and tools for the “lumad” miners who operate in “Minahang Bayan (people’s mining area).”

People’s mining areas are small-scale mining places where the communities can operate and extract minerals.

Representative Rufus Rodriguez, of the city’s 2nd congressional district, recently passed a bill in Lower House declaring the city as “mining-free zone.”

House Bill 45 (HB 45) already went through congress without objection and is now in the senate with good chances of being approved.

Livelihood

Before the bill was passed, Republic Act (RA) 10452 aims to reforest parts of the hinterland communities in the city.

RA 10452 provides P35 million for the reforestation project that is said to provide alternative livelihood of the people in the upland areas.

Dael said apart from the P35 million that is already embedded in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) budget, another P20 million will be added that can help the people to start with their alternative livelihood.

Dael is confident that the livelihood will be granted to the people who will be affected if HB 45 will become a law.

Supportive

As the chairman of the committee on environment and natural resources, Ocon said he is in favor of the bill declaring the city as “mining-free.”

Ocon said the city should abolish destructive mining, but the primitive mining process like “ayag” and panning should continue.

Ocon favors responsible mining because it does not cause harm or danger to the environment.

“The only thing we should avoid is mining that destroys the environment that was conducted by illegal mining operators,” said Ocon.

Ocon said if HB 45 will turn into law, the government has a counterpart to the people’s livelihood through the “Minahang Bayan.”

He added that the indigenous people engaged in mining in the city’s hinterland villages should be educated about the “Minahang Bayan” and responsible mining.

Dael also favors on the city to be a mining-free zone.

Strengthen

Dael was apprehensive at first in supporting Rodriguez’s bill considering the importance of sand and gravel quarrying, which is considered a form of mining.

He said the removal of sand and gravel in the rivers are important.

In HB 45, the quarrying of gravel and sand operated by the national government for their projects and the affected local government units is exempted.

Dael said when this bill will become a law it is important to strengthen the enforcement of regulatory laws because of the fast mining operations in hinterlands.

He added that protection of the environment is important.

Dael added that the city’s illegal mining operations are under control, and it is the municipality of Opol and Iligan City that need to intervene more.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 11, 2014.

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