‘Minahang Bayan’ applications under DENR scrutiny
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) instructed Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to “revisit and validate” all applications for People’s Small-Scale Mining Areas or “Minahang Bayan” sites across the country to determine their safety against geological hazards.
“We will be stricter in approving Minahang Bayan sites, and affirm whether they conform to standards that are safe especially for the miners,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.
MGB was also directed to make sure the shelters provided to small-scale miners are safe and do not pose risk to them.
Cimatu made the order after the MGB office in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) confirmed that 10 associations of small-scale miners had been granted temporary mining contracts in Itogon, Benguet, pending the declaration of a Minahang Bayan.
To recall, Itogon is the site of the landslides that killed dozens of miners over the weekend. The landslides were a result of torrential rainfall brought by typhoon Ompong.
As a response, Cimatu immediately called a halt to all small-scale mining activities in the region.
Cimatu said he would also request the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to help the MGB impose complete stoppage of all mining activities in CAR.
A Minahang Bayan area is where different groups of small scale miners can operate. As of now, there are only nine formally declared Minahang Bayan areas across the country.