Benguet Village Folk Reject Mining Exploration ProjectPublished by MAC on 2007-04-11
Source: Manila Bulletin
Benguet village folk reject mining exploration project
By DEXTER A. SEE, Manila Bulletin
11th April 2007
BOKOD, Benguet – Residents of a village in this fifth-class municipality are denouncing a mining exploration project in their area, saying they were not consulted about it.
In a petition, hundreds of residents of Bobok-Bisal expressed their strong opposition to a memorandum of agreement (MoA) entered into between the municipal government of Bokod and Magellan Metals Inc. for the conduct of a mine exploration in their village. They said that no consultation was done by the company with the people of the affected communities before the agreement was signed, thereby compromising their rights over their ancestral lands.
The agreement was signed by the municipal government officials without the presence of the multi-sectoral groups, which include the women, elders, farmers, and youth organizations.
The petitioners are apprehensive that the exploration would deprive them of their water needs, noting that the proposed site is the source of potable water and irrigation for residents of the barangay.
Earlier, local officials allayed fears of the residents, saying that the exploration would determine only the mineral potentials of the area and that there is no guarantee that the proponents would push through with their project.
Recent mining explorations had troubled several indigenous communities in Benguet, causing strong opposition by the affected cultural minorities.
In the past, thousands of residents of Kibungan vehemently rejected a planned mineral exploration to be conducted by the Al Magan Mining Corp. for fear of losing their ancestral claims over their properties. They also feared massive pollution of the river systems.
Benguet is considered as one of the mineral-rich areas in the country but indigenous communities have already learned their lessons.
Thousands of people lost their lands by virtue of the entry of multi-national mining companies and because of the massive pollution it caused to the river systems in the province.
At present, the mining companies that are still conducting mining activities in Benguet include the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company in Mankayan, Benguet, the Philex Mining Corporation in Tuba and Itogon towns and the Benguet Corp. (BC), which is still implementing a contract for its mineral claims in Acupan, Itogon.