December 5, 2023

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau called on stakeholders in the Cordillera to contribute proposals for the amendment of Republic Act 7076 or the Small-Scale Mining Act.
In the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board (P/CMRB) summit held on Jan. 4 and 5 in Baguio City, MGB Regional Director Fay W. Apil said the gathering aimed to come up with tangible and workable recommendations for lawmakers to consider in making the Small-Scale Mining Act relevant to the needs of the times and the sector.
Espousing the theme “Strengthening regulatory framework for small-scale mining and sand and gravel activities in the Cordillera”, the summit gathered members of the P/CMRB and its technical working group from the six provinces of the region and Baguio, together with representatives from other government agencies to discuss issues and concerns arising from the implementation of the small-scale mining law, which includes among others, the declaration of minahang bayans and applications for small-scale mining contracts (SSMC).
TWG representatives presented their best practices and their issues and challenges faced in the implementation of the Small-Scale Mining Act. Common among the issues presented were the difficulty of securing the SSMC because of stringent requirements.
Representatives from the different government agencies shared the services offered by their offices which could be of assistance to the small-scale miners in the region.
Senior Labor and Employment Officer Leonardo Doguil of the Department of Labor and Employment explained the importance of registering organizations with their office. He also emphasized the requirement of having one safety officer per workplace.
Local Government Operations Officer V of the Department of the Interior and Local Government Alfrainer Partido stressed the environmental governance devolution is conditional and largely dependent on the local devolution transition plan, implying that some decisions made by the local government can be overturned by the secretary of the environment department.
On the part of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Northern Luzon Regional Director Noel Neil Malimban said gold sold to BSP contributes to the national reserve and helps stabilize our economy. He also said tax exemptions on selling of gold are afforded to those who were issued permits.
On the part of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Abilene Cirilo elaborated on the requirement of obtaining consent from the domain owners or Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title holders when applying for SSMCs.
Department of Trade and Industry representative Richard Limpin explained the need for enterprises to register with their agency to avail of financial assistance or incentives for community enterprises.
Cooperative Development Authority representative Eric John Dilag promoted the benefits of organizing cooperatives among small-scale miners such as tax exemptions, dividends and patronage refunds to name a few.
For the Environment Management Bureau, Engr. Lowell Barton of the Water and Air Quality Monitoring Section said the Environmental Compliance Certificate is not a permit but a guideline and tool for environmental protection.
Engr. Liza Canao, Environmental Impact Assessment section chief, added the online application system for ECC has been made easier and pro-client to encourage applicants, especially those in the commercial sand and gravel group to try applying themselves and not hire consultants or fixers who may be charging exorbitant fees.
Enforcement Division chief Charinne Abalos of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said protected areas are not open to mining. Tree cutting permits are processed by the Provincial or Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices in their locality.
Engr. Jan Jeremiah Villaroman of the Mining Technology Division (MTD) of the MGB central office presented the highlights of Department Administrative Order 2022-03 or the revised implementing rules and regulations of the Small-Scale Ming Act of 1991.
Engr. John Paul Miraña, also from the MTD, presented the proposed amendments to the SSM law.
The two-day activity facilitated by MGB-CAR ended with a workshop where the participants were asked to submit their recommendations for consolidation by the MGB central office and shall be forwarded to the House of Representatives for consideration when the proposed amendments to the SSM law will be discussed. – Press release