ITOGON Mayor Victorio Palangdan is urging a national endorsement for the creation of a Minahang Bayan in the province of Benguet.

The mining town mayor stated his support for the action asked in order to protect small-scale miners not only in the province but also in other areas of the Cordillera.

“This call for a Minahang Bayan is really needed, if the government really wants to promote good mining practices this is one of the ways to do it,” Palangdan told Sun.Star Baguio.

According to Palangdan, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources including its related bureaus should act on the pending application of Benguet in declaring the province as one.

“The application is still pending and as much as we want sana mas mabilis na ma-process para naman yung mga small scale miners natin will not be superseded by the big mining corporations,” Palangdan said.

Presently, there are 49 pending applications for the declaration of minahang bayan, composed of 20 applications in Benguet, 10 in Apayao, six in Baguio City, four in Mountain Province, and three each in Kalinga, Abra and Ifugao.

Benguet Governor Crecensio Pacalso said the province will continue to push for the application to declare the province a Minahang Bayan.

The new Mining Law or Executive Order 79, a common area to mine must be established as a Minahang Bayan, one requirement is to secure a Free Prior and Informed Consent from the community under the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Under the Minanahang Bayan, each cooperative will be given an area of 80 hectares, or one block although not one association who applied has been given a permit under the Minahang Bayan concept.

Earlier this year, a validation team has started to work and to identify the sites in the 13 municipalities suitable for the declaration.

Small-scale mining, although proven to be very hazardous, remains as one thriving industry in most gold-rush towns like Benguet.

This concept empowers the provincial government to grant small-scale mining permits only to cooperatives. The government will have to declare first an area as a Minahang Bayan before allowing legal miners to operate.