Gold panners seek exemption
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.
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.