BAGUIO

Exemption from mining free zone bill sought

THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Cordillera is set to ask Baguio City Representative Marquez Go to consider an exemption for some mineral reservation areas in the city for his mining free zone bill for Baguio City.

In the weekly Talakayan sa Environment Code radio forum of the Baguio Regreening Movement, MGB Regional Director Faye Apil said there are mineral reservation areas in Baguio City that can remain as mining sites for small-scale miners if these areas are considered none livable because of the terrain.

"The congressman is working for the destablishment of these mineral reservation under his proposed bill for Baguio to be a mining free zone. Before this could be destablished, we have to asses if these areas have no more use for minerals. Yes, Baguio City is a town site which should be used for residential but then, it's around 500 hectares," Apil said.

The destablishment of mineral reservation will undergo strict assessment of the area if this will be a townsite application or for minahang bayan for small-scale miners.

In his bill, Go seeks to declare the city a mining free zone in response to the growing geohazards and environmental threats within the Summer Capital.

Once passed into law, House Bill (HB) 5619 would effectively ban all mining activities within the city's territorial jurisdiction, including small-scale mining and quarrying with all exploration permits, licenses, and small-scale mining contracts immediately revoked while existing small-scale mining operations are given one year to close their operations and undertake necessary rehabilitation and reforestation efforts of affected areas.

Baguio City has two mineral reservations by virtue of two proclamations by former President Carlos Garcia, excluding them from the Baguio Townsite Reservation: a 380-hectare area in Barangays Laokan Apugan, Atok Trail and Kias under Proclamation 414 s. 1957, and 159 hectares of land covering Barangays Mines View and Lucban through Proclamation 572 s. 1959.

"What we saw in these areas were the steepness of the area which should not be a place for the construction of houses. However, why don't we look at the possibility if there are still areas where we can still get minerals since this would be a small scale mining and not large scale mining aside from considering the livelihood of those dependent to small scale mining," Apil added.

The MGB has received six small-scale mining association applicants for the city and these have undergone the process and are still awaiting the response from the City Mining Regulatory Board for approval.


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