LA TRINIDAD, Benguet- Governor Melchor Diclas on Thursday (Nov. 24) urged pocket miners in the
province to protect the environment even as they are being “tolerated” to operate without the necessary small-scale mining permit-mining contract. “Mabalin nga agtrabaho tayo basta aywanan tayo ti environment,isu nga tulongtulong tayo lang” Gov.Diclas said about his personal opinion regarding the operations of small-scale mining in the province.

Diclas led other provincial and local government units (lgu) officials who graced and gave their respective remarks on the mining summit held at the Capitol, one of the events highlighting the 122nd Adivay
celebration with its theme “A People’s Festival of Culture, Nature and the Future. Diclas rallied local small-scale miners to demonstrate responsible mining and to be supportive in the environmental efforts of province , in order that their operations will continue.

Diclas added that they are mandated by law to monitor mining operations that include small-scale mining wherein environmental laws must be respected and followed. In fact, the summit was a held to update local ssm the newly revised provincial environmental code, and relevant mining laws. The governor stressed
that together with his comembers of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) are helping ssm in the
processing of their documents (minahang bayan applications) in order that more local pocket miners will be legalized.

PENRO Officer Joseph Cervantes for his part presented the list of barriers in the legalization of small-scale
mining operations include: presence of large mining concessions; ancestral domain claims; reservations and protected areas; and surface land ownerships. STRONG VOICE Peter Cosalan, also a member of PMRB representing the environment and academe sectors urged local pocket miners to have a strong voice in order to air their demands and needs, pointing out it’s a “political action.”

To date, there are 13 minahang bayan approved in the region that include four in Benguet, according to Engr. Felimon Aliado of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera. The one day summit was
spearheaded by Board Member Juan Nazarro, Environment Committee Chairman and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO).

In other development, on Wednesday (Nov 23) during the Grand Canao, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap revealed to mediamen that in his meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., told him that he is aware and concern about the the plight of smallscale miners across the country. Yap added that he appreciate President Marcos’ latest actions on ssm. Rep. Yap added that during the budget deliberation, he presented to the environment secretary issues confronting ssm.

Primo Agatep/ABN

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