Fearing another landslide, some 300 residents of nearby Itogon, Benguet appealed for Roman Catholic Bishop Carlito Cenzon’s intervention and assistance to cause the immediate suspension of all mining activities in the area where16 indigenous miners were trapped in a tunnel last month.
BY LYN V. RAMO
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. North of Manila) – Fearing another landslide, some 300 residents of nearby Itogon, Benguet appealed for Roman Catholic Bishop Carlito Cenzon’s help. They asked for Cenzon’s intervention and assistance to cause the immediate suspension of all mining activities in the area where16 indigenous miners were trapped in a tunnel last month.
Typhoon Nina last month caused a massive slide in Barangay Loacan, also in Itogon. The land slide blocked the water way that diverted the Ambalanga River and reportedly caused the unexpected flooding of several underground mining sites, trapping 16 miners.
Six miners died while ten others were rescued alive after almost two weeks inside the flooded tunnel.
Almost 100 families sought refuge on safer grounds and are now seeking for a permanent relocation site.
“Your Excellency, a big landslide threatened the communities around the Benguet Corporation’s Antamok mined-out area. That incident is very revealing as to the current status of the land in that area,” the petition of the people of Barangays Ucab and Tuding in Itogon states.
The petitioners, mostly from sitios Tram, Miners’ Side, Bagto, Peday all in Ucab and sitio Slide in Tuding call for the suspension of all mining activities near the Miners’ Side community at Antamok Tram, Itogon, Benguet, until a real and serious investigation has been done.
They said that the stability of the lands in the area, the environmental feasibility of mining in the area, and the environmental impact on the communities must be studied first.
“The underground mining operations conducted in Antamok for decades, which ended with the open-pit mining operations are now taking its toll on the land and environment. Most of all, it is threatening our communities as we now realize how insecure the lands on which we have built our houses and continue to raise our families are,” the petition points out.
The Benguet Corporation started its operations in Antamok in the early 1900’s. Other mine sites, besides Antamok, have been contracted to small-scale miners mostly from Cordillera, with the ore production-sharing scheme of 60 – 40. Miners get only 60 percent of their ore, giving the rest to the company.
“We could not understand how these operators could have acquired legitimate permits, if ever they do have one, without proper public consultations, and after the occurrence of a massive environmental disaster,” the petition said in questioning government regulatory policies on mining.
“How could mining operations be allowed in an area that has already been mined out, and proven to be unstable, posing a direct and real threat to homes, lives and properties?” the petitioners said.
Meanwhile, Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan told the press October 20 that the comprehensive investigation on the Itogon mining disaster is still ongoing. He said a multi-sectoral committee has been formed to look into the plight of the families affected by the landslide.
“We wanted to know who or what the culprit is,” Fongwan told the media in a press conference. He said while the presidential investigation is being conducted, he had to look for means to relocate the affected families. (Northern Dispatch/posted by(Bulatlat.com)