May 23, 2024

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has requested the Benguet provincial board to assist in the application of small-scale miners for minahang bayan.
MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano, responding to the earlier resolution forwarded by the Benguet provincial board in March this year asking Sec. Roy Cimatu to lift the temporary mining ban in the province, said his office understands the concerns of the board especially in the current pandemic. 
“(However), this office abides by the current setup of small-scale mining laws, where small-scale mining activities shall be undertaken only within the declared People’s Small-Scale Mining Areas (PSSMA) or minahang bayan,” Moncano said.
He said small-scale mining contracts could only be issued following the declaration of an area as a minahang bayan, subject to the submission and approval of needed requirements.
Moncano has advised the provincial board to coordinate with the MGB-Cordillera in the filing of petitions for the minahang bayan in the provincial government to facilitate its processing for endorsement to the DENR secretary for its declaration as minahang bayan areas.
Earlier, Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas backed the provincial board resolution through his letter to Cimatu asking for the lifting of the small-scale mining moratorium in the Cordillera due to the clamor of small-scale miners who are having difficulty in this pandemic.
In September 2018, Cimatu declared a moratorium on small-scale mining operations in the region following the tragic landslide in Ucab, Itogon, Benguet caused by Typhoon Ompong. 
MGB-Cordillera data shows there are three declared minahang bayan in Benguet.
The minahang bayan in Itogon, covering 64 hectares applied for by the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association, was declared Jan. 15, 2019 while the area in Bakun covering 287 hectares was applied for by the Gambang, Bagtangan, Goldstar and declared in June 19, 2019.
The recently approved minahang bayan in Tuba covering 31.25 hectares was applied by the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners’ Association Inc.
Of the three declared minahang bayan, only LIPMA was issued a small-scale mining contract. – Ofelia C. Empian