THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in the Cordillera Administrative Region is set to declare an area in Loakan, Itogon town, Benguet as the first minahang bayan area after successfully going through the rigorous process of application.
In the fourth quarter Joint Regional Development and Peace and Order Council (RDC-RPOC) meeting at the Presidential Mansion in Baguio City, MGB-Cordillera director Fay Apil said the hectare area is situated at the patented mining claim of Benguet Corporation Incorporated in Loakan.
Apil said the declaration will be formalized next week when the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) together with the MGB convenes.
“I’d like to inform that as of now, the clearance for Lipma (Luneta Itogon Pocket Miners Association) have been signed because this is the area where Benguet Corporation consented to give an area for minahang bayan at Antamok mines which is around 40 hectares and we are glad that finally, they have complied with all the requirements. The National Commission for Indigenous Peoples have given a Certificate of None Overlap, aside from the signed clearance by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia who is the Chief of Staff of Secretary Roy Cimatu,” Apil said.
As provided in Republic Act 7076 or the People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, also known as the Minahang Bayan Law, small-scale mining operations must be done only within the declared area for such purpose.
“It is to their advantage because it is within a patented mining claim so they don’t have to get the free, prior and informed consent but they only have to secure the CNO from NCIP which the commission gave after conducting ground validation to which we immediately endorse to the Secretary,” Apil added.
Apil clarified the group cannot mine the area yet with the group still needing a small-scale mining contract.