Cordillera group slams DENR move to call on mining forms to renew mining applications

By Alma B. Sinumlag
Northern Dispatch

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera People’s Alliance is preparing to de battle againt more mining applications, among them a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) by Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC).

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently issued its Memorandum Order 2011-01 to clean out all stagnant applications. This reportedly sent mine firms scampering ti reactive their mining applications, and Lepanto was among those who swiftly responded.

the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Benguet during their regular session last July 18 received a copy of the two-year environmental work programs of the aforementioned mining companies.

It was stated that LCMC’s FTAA application No. 24 covers an area of 10,468.9 hectares within the municipalities of Kabayan, Bakun, Mankayan and Buguias. The proposed FTAA is for the “exploration, development, and utilization of gold, copper, silver and other associated minerals” in the said area.

On the other hand, Shipside Incorporated FTAA application covers an approximate area of 13,777.9 hectares within the municipality of Bauko in Mt. Province; Buguias, Bokod and Abatan in Benguet; Lamut and Lagawe in Ifugao; and Bayombong and Kayapa in Nueva Viscaya.

Santos Mero, CPA deputy secretary general of the CPA explained that once an FTAA is approved, the owner of the applications are given a permission to explore, develop, and exploit the mineral resources over the applied area.

Companies are only required to seek a free prior and informed consent (FPIC) only once and not for every stage of the bulk development. “It already covers all the stages of mining,,” he said, referring to effect of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) memo 2011-01.

Mero said that Lepanto’s application for a FTAA in a joint endeavor with Shipside Incorporated which is also a subsidiary of LCMC. It poses a grave threat against communities in the area.

In an earlier statement, the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) said the the DENR was highly involved in in reviewing the productivity of approved mining tenements and permits. The DENR has so far scrapped 500 unproductive mining claims.”

“But instead of calling for a genuine moratorium, the DENR issued the call for mining application renewals. What it actually did was smoothen the process for mining permits in the future,” it said.

The group said that the DENR has failed time and again to uphold its mandate to protect the country’s natural resources.

Let Itogon Heal

The CPA has also issued a call to concerned agencies and local government units (LGU) to let the Municipality of Itogon heal from several decades of natural resources exploitation.

This was in relation to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s (MGB) approval of the exploration project of Cordillera Tiger Gold Resources Inc. located in the said municipality.

CPA’s Mero, a native of Itogon, said the municipality had enough of mineral exploitation.

“Let Itogon heal for the sake of the future generations ,” he said. “The people of Itogon should be assisted in nurturing Itogon’s remaining resources. We must put an end corporate greed.”

Mero said that Itogon has many watershed areas and this why the exploration was previously rejected.

“But for some reasons, it was now approved,” he said, expressing doubt that was a free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process conducted relative to the project. He also said that the areas eyed for mineral explorations have also been tagged by environmental groups as hazardous.

The CPA leader also said that the SP should take a stand for Itogon and the entire province of Benguet. He said that the SP should initiate moves like the legislative action made by its counterpart in the Mt. Province when it issued a resolution opposing the entry of large scale mining corporations in their territory.

” Benguet has been ravaged for its minerals for so long; it’s time to help the land recover,” he said.

According to Mero, Benguet has the highest number of landslide prone areas. “We cannot deny the fact that large mines have a share of the responsibility for these landslides,” he said.

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