Gold pan­ners seek ex­emp­tion

Sun.Star Baguio - - Front Page - Lau­ren Alimondo Sun*Star Re­porter

GOLD pan­ners from Ito­gon are seek­ing ex­emp­tion from the or­der of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte and Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Sec­re­tary Roy Ci­matu on the clo­sure of small scale min­ing in Benguet prov­ince and other parts of the Cordillera.

Fol­low­ing a con­sul­ta­tion held at the Ito­gon Gym­na­sium on Oc­to­ber 7, gold pan­ners in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity sub­mit­ted an ap­peal to the Pro­vin­cial Min­ing Reg­u­la­tory Board and the DENR to de­fine the pa­ram­e­ters of the stop­page is­sued and ex­empt gold panFOR

ning as small scale min­ing ac­tiv­ity.

“Gold pan­ning is un­doubt­edly, our way of life. It puts food on the table and sends our chil­dren to school. More im­por­tantly, it is not only a mere liveli­hood but a tra­di­tion that is over cen­turies old,” the pe­ti­tion reads.

Ito­gon Gold Pan­ners Liveli­hood As­so­ci­a­tion led by pres­i­dent San­ti­ago Golingab has sent the pe­ti­tion the Na­tional Task Force Min­ing Chal­lenge (NTFMC) con­tinue to im­ple­ment the stop­page or­der of le­gal and il­le­gal min­ing op­er­a­tion in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity known as ‘Oplan Ito­gon’.

The let­ter signed de­scribe the dras­tic move of the is­suance of the stop­page or­der as they pointed out gold pan­ning ex­isted since time im­memo­rial even be­fore the large-scale min­ing com­pa­nies ex­ploited their lands.

DENR-Cordillera re­gional di­rec­tor Ralph Pablo stated NTFMC, com­prised of more than 300 in­di­vid­u­als from the agency, Armed Forces and the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice di­vided into nine teams tasked to stop the min­ing op­er­a­tions in Ito­gon in­clud­ing the per­son­nel of Benguet Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive (Beneco) in charge of stop­ping il­le­gal con­nec­tion of ball mills.

In one of the oc­u­lar in­spec­tions of nine barangays of Ito­gon, it was ob­served that some adits were sealed, riprapped and in­stalled with grills.

The re­gional di­rec­tor cited an on­go­ing in­ven­tory of Oplan Ito­gon op­er­a­tion which started on Oc­to­ber 1. He also asked for the con­certed co­op­er­a­tion of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment unit and the stake­hold­ers in view of the cease and de­sist or­der as the process of Mi­na­hang Bayan is un­der­way and con­sid­er­ing that the min­eral ex­trac­tions are con­ducted in geo­haz­ard ar­eas.

“Gold pan­ning, that is still small-scale min­ing,” ad­dress the re­gional di­rec­tor as to the re­cent clamor to ex­clude gold pan­ning which en­tails no drilling, blast­ing, crush­ing or grind­ing by ma­chiner­ies. It is still the same, iy­ong ap­proach lang iy­ong iba kasi iy­ong ap­proach ng iba sa small scale min­ing iy­ong magka­roon ng adits, ball mill, un­til such time they ob­tain the ore,” Pablo said.

Pablo how­ever said they will have to wait for Duterte and Ci­matu’s de­ci­sion on the pe­ti­tion.

The as­so­ci­a­tion claimed gold pan­ning is claimed as the sim­plest indige­nous method of sep­a­rat­ing the gold par­ti­cles from the soil or grav­els by wash­ing it in a pan with wa­ter. It does not re­quire the per­son to en­ter the tun­nel and dig deep into the ground.

The ap­pel­lants be­lieve that gold pan­ning to be in­cluded as al­ter­na­tive liveli­hood.

“Dear Mr. Pres­i­dent, you hold our present sit­u­a­tion and our chil­dren’s fu­ture in your hands, we humbly asked that you di­rect a re-visit of the stop­page or­der to in­clude an ex­haus­tive def­i­ni­tion of its pa­ram­e­ters and ex­clude gold pan­ning from the cur­rent non-ex­is­tent list of pro­hib­ited acts," the pe­ti­tion added.

Photo by Lau­ren Alimondo

CLO­SURE. Lo­cal of­fi­cials on Tues­day im­ple­mented the clo­sure or­der of Mayor Romeo Salda pro­hibit­ing chicken dung trad­ing at Si­tio Tili, barangay Shi­lan, La Trinidad in Benguet.

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