January 29, 2023

With Mountain Province recently declaring its first minahang bayan, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has declared a total of four “people’s mines” in the Cordillera.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera data shows the two minahang bayan are in Benguet. These are found in Itogon applied by the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association covering 64 hectares, which was declared on Jan. 15, 2019; and in Bakun applied by the Gambang, Bagtangan, Goldstar covering 287 hectares, declared on June 19, 2019.

Another is in Conner, Apayao applied by Olivia Catral with 20 hectares, which was declared on Feb. 4 and the latest in Sagada, Mountain Province applied by the Northern Sagada Barangay Small-Scale Miners Association Inc. with a 10-hectare area in Fidelisan, which was declared on Nov. 17.

Meanwhile, there are 51 other applications that are undergoing various processes and evaluations before the MGB-Cordillera and central offices and the Office of the DENR Secretary.

Apayao and Benguet have the most minahang bayan applications both with 15 followed by Abra with seven; Baguio City with six; Mountain Province with four; and two applications each for Ifugao and Kalinga.  

MGB-Cordillera Director Fay Apil earlier said upon the declaration of the small-scale mining area, the miners’ organization must secure a certification from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and an environmental compliance certificate. It must also designate a mineral processing zone.

Apil said they are now streamlining the process for the application of minahang bayan to aid small-scale miners.

She said challenges encountered by applicants mostly concern the difficulty in acquiring clearances from various government agencies, securing the permission of owners of applied areas, and getting consent from large mining companies and affected indigenous peoples.

She said the application for a small-scale mining area is filed before the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board, evaluated and verified by the MGB regional and central offices, and subsequently endorsed to the DENR secretary for clearance and approval. – Ofelia C. Empian