July 23, 2024

A leader of a small-scale mining (SSM) group in Itogon, Benguet is hopeful local government units will be given more autonomy especially in the regulation of small-scale mines, which have recently been ordered shut down by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board for lack of permit.

“Mai-localize kuma diay panag-permit ti small-scale mining. Ada met diay Mandanas-Garcia,” said Alfred Bugnosen, of the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners Group Inc., also the representative of the informal sector to the National Anti Poverty Commission.

The Mandanas-Garcia ruling strengthened the fiscal independence of LGUs through the downloading of additional tax shares and devolution of some national government functions.

In the recent gathering of SSMs in Itogon, Benguet, Bugnosen echoed the position of fellow SSMs that they are willing to comply with government regulations but the rigorous requirements under the Minahang Bayan Act have prevented them from pursuing their application.

“Kasla pang-large scale mining met lang diay requirements,” Bugnosen said. 

Bugnosen said if LGUs were given leeway to draw up their own guidelines, SSM operations can be regulated.

He admitted there are SSMs that contribute to the pollution and destruction of the environment and SSM organizations, which do not have police powers can only dissuade fellow SSMs.

“Our federation encourages members to build a tailings pond pero ang problema kapag walang permit, hindi rin maobliga,” Bugnosen said.

Bugnosen also suggested for the inclusion of a transitory provision in the ongoing amendment to the Minahang Bayan Act that SSMs be permitted to operate, subject to regulations, while perfecting their application.

Just like large-scale, SSM is regulated in the country through the government’s issuance of a minahang bayan declaration and award of a SSM contract. – Rimaliza A. Opiña