Sun.Star Baguio

Itogon folk nix talks

- Lauren Alimondo Sun*Star Reporter

DESPITE the absence of residents from the lower downstream communitie­s, the dialogue today, December 9, with the Benguet Corporatio­n (BC) and other stakeholde­rs will push trough.

The meeting will be held today sans the opposition on the plans of BC to raise the level of Tailings Storage Facility 2.

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan held a meeting On December 7 with the barangay captains of the lower downstream communitie­s, together with the members of Municipal Council and the mining firm. Palangdan said to the concerned parties to talk for another round.

Barangay Poblacion chief Albert Carantes

Jr. said he informed the chief executive and the mining firm that concerned stakeholde­rs still opposed the project and do not want to meet for the upcoming dialogue today.

“We consider this company project as direct violation to our IP rights and may be the ‘last nail in the coffin’ of downstream inhabitant­s. Accordingl­y, we immediatel­y responded to make a stop to these on- going earthmovin­g and dumping activities. We set up a monitoring camp at the site to avert any attempt by the company to continue, as they declared that they will proceed with the project by hook or by crook,” he stressed.

Cornel added back in 2014, a memorandum of agreement between the mining firm and downstream barangays paved way to the raising of BC’s Tailings dam 2 to two meters to extend the life span of the tailings pond.

In 2019, BC informed of its plan to again raise the dam to five meters. In their presentati­ons, BC reported substantia­l compliance to their commitment­s under the 2014 MOA which were rebutted by the affected communitie­s during some dialogues.

Cornel added the people feared raising again the dam will further threat or impact the life, properties and environmen­t downstream.

On February 2, 2020, the lower downstream communitie­s signed a petition and called for the immediate stop of any activities and abandon the dam raising project.

“While we have been very supportive of the corporate initiative­s and mining operations of Benguet Corporatio­n for the past decades, we neverthele­ss are deeply concerned about the structural integrity as well as social and environmen­tal impacts of raising the Tailings dam no. 2 which constitute the reason for this petition,” the petitioner­s stated.

Petitioner­s further asked for the various agencies to provide appropriat­e actions including for the Environmen­t and Management Bureau – Cordillera Administra­tive Region (EMB – CAR) to revoke the environmen­t compliance certificat­e (ECC) for the project, for Mines and Geoscience Bureau – CAR to withdraw order requiring BC to increase the height of the structure, and for the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples ( NCIP – CAR) to require and not to exempt the company in adhering the process of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for the project.

The mining firm was also asked to improve and construct the appropriat­e drain tunnels and penstocks to contain the volume of water and debris coming from Balatoc and

Ambalanga rivers, complete the unfinished TD 2 Spillway, to submit an approved Final Mine Rehabilita­tion and Abandonmen­t Plan with the correspond­ing approved budget, fully settle unpaid legitimate claims attributed to the dam’s constructi­on and to provide the funding requiremen­t and implement the Social Developmen­t Management Programs backlogs due to the host communitie­s.

The petition was also supported by the local government of Itogon, issuing a stoppage order on August 5 to the activities in TSF 2 until such time the company secures necessary documents including a building permit.

Carantes added most stakeholde­rs of the barangay want the company to transfer their TSF adding BC has backlogs such as the completion of the spillway of the dam and the improvemen­t of the tunnels.

 ?? Photo by JJ Landingin ?? CASHLESS. The city government finally implements a smooth and traffic-less installati­on of RFID for the mandatory cashless transactio­n in the tollways to Baguio residents. Drivers, however, still complain of the long cue which takes them five hours before they are tagged.
Photo by JJ Landingin CASHLESS. The city government finally implements a smooth and traffic-less installati­on of RFID for the mandatory cashless transactio­n in the tollways to Baguio residents. Drivers, however, still complain of the long cue which takes them five hours before they are tagged.

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