May 23, 2024

Residents of Itogon, Benguet have filed three environmental cases against Benguet Corporation in relation to its planned raising of the tailings storage facility located in Poblacion, Itogon.
The residents recently trooped to the Regional Trial Court in La Trinidad, Benguet and filed the complaints, which include petitions for issuance of a temporary/permanent protection order and temporary environmental protection order.   
The cases were filed by various sectors and individuals from the downstream indigenous communities of Itogon represented by punong barangays Albert Carantes, Jr., of Poblacion, Paul Camantiles of Dalupirip, and Edwin Atumpag of Tinongdan.
Itogon Councilor Gerard Cornel, the designated spokesperson of the residents, said while they are waiting for the cases to be raffled, the petitioners continue to monitor any activity at the tailings dam.
Cornel said the monitoring camp at the tailings dam site is being maintained on rotation basis through the participation of various purok leaders, sectors, and groups.
“The daily needs at the dam site as well as the filing of cases were made possible through donations and assistance of volunteer lawyers from the affected communities,” Cornel said.
BC, meanwhile, has yet to issue a statement on the cases filed against them.
“We will issue our statement in due time,” said BC’s legal officer Froilan Lawilao.
The planned dam enhancement aims to raise it to a maximum of 775 meters but BC will only fill up to 773 meters as the additional two meters will be maintained as a free board. 
BC earlier said the raising of the dam is vital for the protection, safety, and integrity for the safe impoundment of tailings materials to the tailings dam to avoid spilling.
The petitioners, however, said the planned dam raising by the mining firm did not go through the proper consultation with the affected communities.
With this, residents camped out at the tailings dam compound since December last year up to present to prevent the mining firm from pushing through with the plan, as the consultation between the BC and the residents reached a deadlock. – Ofelia C. Empian