Issue of March 22, 2020
Mt. Province
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Itogon mayor mandates mining companies to suspend work
by Ofelia C. Empian

In compliance with the national directive on work suspension in relation to the enhanced community quarantine, Itogon, Benguet Mayor Victorio Palangdan has urged all the mining companies within the town to suspend their operations.

Palangdan, in his advisory dated March 20 directed resident managers of all the mining companies within Itogon to comply with the national directives on work suspension.

He said under the guidelines issued by the Office of the Executive Secretary, mining is not included in the exemption of those firms allowed to operate.

In the national guidelines, “only those private establishments providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and medicine production, banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water, and telecommunication supplies and facilities shall be open.”

“In these hard times where everyone is under threat of an enemy that cannot be seen by the naked eye, we are uncertain who among the people around us are infected with the virus and a carrier thereof. Stringent measures based on worst case scenarios has to be undertaken,” the mayor said.

“Absent a clear provision if the mining industry could be categorized under the export-oriented industry, it is but for the protection of the health and life of all the workers that they should undergo the mandatory home quarantine,” he added.

Palangdan, meanwhile, lauded the prompt action of the mining firms of their contingency measures to address the Covid-19 situation in their mine camps.

“With the foregoing, all mining companies operating within the municipality of Itogon are hereby directed to stop mining operations effective immediately until April 14, ” he said.

The mining companies are also mandated to compel their mineworkers to undergo mandatory home quarantine for 14 days. The mayor also called for the mining firms to monitor the compliance of these workers.

He said only skeletal force for administrative and security works may only be maintained.

“Guidelines issued by the Department of Labor and Employment and other concerned agencies shall govern the compensation and benefits of the affected workers in relation to the enhanced community quarantine being implemented,” Palangdan stated.

Copies of the advisory were sent to the Benguet Corporation; Itogon Suyoc Resources, Inc; Philex Mining Corporation; and Atok Gold.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government-Municipal Local Government Operation Officer, Mines and Geosciences Bureau -Cordillera, and all punong barangays of Itogon were also furnished copies of the advisory.

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