KIBUNGAN folks continue to shun mining activities in the highland town.
Locals are now batting for the exception of the entire area from large scale mining operations claiming the entirety of the town is part of an ancestral domain.
A dialog was pushed by local folk at the Bishop’s residence Thursday to thresh out concerns of the majority as well as to drum up support for the petition which has reached the Office of the President.
Opening ceremonies and rituals were performed by the Cordillera Volunteers Missioners led by Reverend Father Andres Cosalan Jr., Vicar General of the Diocese of Baguio.
Kibungan elder, Oswaldo Panggayan, gave a background of the Kibungan struggle to keep large scale mining off the town since the 1900s with lawyer Allan Sacpa providing the legal background.
Government line agencies were present during the dialog with National Commission on Indigenous Peoples regional director Sancho Buquing, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mines and Geosciences division chief representative Juancho Pablo Galvez, and Department of Agriculture Regional Technical Director Danilo Daguio.
Sacpa said the local folks are asking for an assurance for the protection of the entire municipality from large scale mining activities.
Recent mining uproar caused by Da Gamma Minerals united Kibungan folks anew in their advocacy to stop any mining activities in the area.
Years ago, Da Gamma was granted a 25-year Mining Lease Contract (MLC) Area which expired in 2012. A renewal of permits was not granted to the company but a new exploration permit has been forwarded to the DENR–MGB tagged as EXPA–105, which the agency has yet to grant.
The contract which was granted to Gamban Mining and Dev’t Corp covers 812 hectares but exploration activities will be concentrated in five lots covering less than 50 hectares.
Sacpa said the dialog was needed to get new information of the new mining executive order issued last year by the President Aquino to appease fears of the Kibungan folk on companies wanting to come into the community and explore mineral reserves.
Sacpa said the dialog has helped give guidelines on how to protect the area from large scale mining and prevent companies to enter the highland town.
Kibungan folk have consistently opposed exploration activities here, maintaining a no mining policy in the area.