Issue of February 4, 2018
Mt. Province

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Small–scale miners lament tedious legalization process
by PIA–Benguet

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Tedious requirements in the legalization of small scale mining and in the application for minahang bayan, and conflicting and inconsistent provisions of laws are among the pressing issues and concerns that need to be addressed for the sector to prosper.

Various stakeholders in the industry raised their issues and concerns in a symposium entitled “Strengthening Multi-stakeholder Participation in Artisanal Small Scale Gold Mining Governance in Benguet” spearheaded by the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc.

Itogon Councilor Daxie Allain Xavier D. Godio said many small scale miners in the town would like to have their operations legalized but they cannot comply with the tedious requirements.

Mankayan Mayor Materno Luspian expressed the same sentiment. He also raised the need for free, prior and informed consent whether or not the applicant is a member of the indigenous cultural community.

Kabayan Mayor Gideon Todiano stressed the need to legalize SSM operations so that local government units could guide them in their operations.

Leoncio Na-oy, secretary-general of the Benguet Federation of Small Scale Miners Association, agreed that the road to legalization is difficult to attain, citing inconsistencies in the provisions of the laws, the requirement for a full-blown FPIC process for mineral extraction for both large and small scale mining as per NCIP requirements, and the issue on the imposition of taxes, which increased with the implementation of the Tax Reform Law.

Peter Cosalan, a Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board member, also raised the conflicting provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act Law and the Regalian doctrine on the ownership of resources; as well as the non-devolution of powers to the board, which is still chaired by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and with the provincial governor as co-chair.

MGB Regional Director Fay Apil presented the challenges they are encountering, specifically on minahang bayan.  She urged small scale mining operators and miners to level up their mining procedures and be focused on responsible environmental practices.

Gov. Crescencio Pacalso expressed hope that appropriate solutions will be implemented not only for the benefit of the SSMs but also for the local and national government and stakeholders.

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