February 3, 2023

The earlier stoppage order on all mining activities in Itogon, Benguet following a surge in Covid-19 cases in mining areas the past days has been lifted Friday.

Mayor Victorio Palangdan has lifted the order after representatives of Benguet Corp., Philex Mining Corp., and Itogon-Suyoc Resources Inc., have presented their contingency plans to the municipal inter-agency task force.

In a meeting, the three mining companies presented their Covid-19 responses such as establishing temporary treatment and monitoring facilities for Covid-19 patients. The TTMF will be manned by doctors, nurses, and attendants.

The mining corporations also said RT-PCR testing and contact tracing within their mine sites are still ongoing.

“The three mining corporations further reported that they are implementing the necessary protocols in their working areas in order to prevent further transmission of Covid-19 among its workers and their households,” Palangdan said.

The measures implemented by the mining firms are in compliance with the Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine promulgated by the National Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“The safety and welfare of our constituents within the mining areas are secured, thus the operation of these mining corporations may resume, thus the need to lift the imposition of cessation/stoppage of mining operations,” he said.

As of Nov. 3, the mining areas in Itogon have 435 total cases combined placing some sitios under lockdown.

The town has a total of 427 active cases confined in the Itogon (Malasin) ISRI facility, RHS, Virac TTMF, Benguet Corp. facility, Provincial TTMF, Itogon District Hospital, and private hospitals.

Due to the lack of isolation facilities, the mayor said there are confirmed asymptomatic cases that remain self-isolated since all isolation facilities are full.

“Rest assured that they are regularly monitored by the municipal health office. Isolation is currently undertaken through our collaborative efforts with the Regional Task Force on Covid-19,” he said.

The rise in Covid-19 cases is expected in the municipality with the aggressive mass testing conducted in Itogon, with 1,000 tests performed on Nov. 5 and 6. – Ofelia C. Empian