BAGUIO CITY— The municipality of Itogon, Benguet has formed a task force against illegal mining to control environmental degradation and prevent the loss of lives.
In an Executive Order 04-2019 dated August 6, Mayor Victorio Palangdan named the different village chiefs, police, disaster council, the councilor who chairs the committee on the environment as well as the Benguet Corporation as members of the task force.
The task force will enforce related mining laws within the town and prevent another landslide from happening. In September 2018, a massive landslide killed around a hundred people at a mining village in Itogon.
Office of the Civil Defense- Cordillera Administrative Region (OCD-CAR) Regional Director Albert Mogol earlier called on the local government of Itogon to stop illegal mining in the town.
“We humbly request the local government unit (LGU) of Itogon, together with the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to facilitate the stoppage of any unauthorized mining or discourage the conduct of mining activities during inclement weather to ensure the safety of the miners and the constituents in general,” Mogol said in his letter to Palangdan.
In an interview on Friday, Mogol said he personally talked with the mayor regarding his personal experience when they visited the town prior to the opening of classes to look at the situation of public schools and noted there are still mining activities in the area.
The mayor admitted that several small-scale mining activities, which resulted in the indiscriminate release of waste containing chemicals on rivers, are still happening.
He said the applications for the “Minahang Bayan (MB)” program is being reviewed and processed by the provincial mining regulatory board (PMRB). The Board has already approved one application.
The individual small-scale mining activities remain illegal if their applications with the MB is not approved, Palangdan said.
Palangdan said the task force will also formulate and recommend policies regarding small-scale mining within the town, monitor activities related to mining, stop illegal mining and perform other functions related to the activity./Liza Agoot (PNA)