By Zaldy Comanda
BAGUIO CITY– Baguio City Representative Congressman Mark Go is willing to hold hearings on his proposed House Bill (HB) No. 5619, that will declare this city as a mining-free zone.
“I am willing to hold hearings on my proposed bill. I will inform the House committee in-charge,” Go said as vowed to come up with a win-win solution to address the small-scale mining issue in the city, and alleviate the plight of local pocket miners, while making sure that measures would be in place to protect the environment.
Go’s action came after his meeting with some leaders of local small-scale mining associations on Friday .The meeting lasted for more than an hour.
He urged local pocket miners to commit themselves to practice responsible mining for the good of the city and its populace.
The meeting was attended by Leoncio Na-oy of the Baguio Federation of Small-Scale Gold Miners Inc. (BFSSGM), also the group’s representative to the City Mining Regulatory Board (CMRB), Neri Reynold Fangloy, president of Batawel Small-Scale Mining Association (Atok Trail) and Butch Cuilan Uabac ,Camp 7, Kennon road.
Others who attended were City Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan , and Faye Apil, officer-in-charge of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB- Cordillera).
During the meeting, Go strongly requested the MGB to come up with specifications like suggestions –amendments and courses of actions on the issue. He urged MGB to come up with a timeline to tackle the issue. He suggested three to six months period.
Go appealed to MGB to come up with an “honest to goodness” list of areas feasible or applicable for mining activity in the city.
Apil said her office was ready to submit a list, together with the Technical Working Group (TWG) report, relative to the proposed bill.
Olowan, a key figure in the dispute because of his assistance to small-scale miners, urged MGB to focus on regulatory instead of conducting closures versus the operations of small-scale mining here.
He also suggested that a larger meeting be conducting, calling on all small-scale miners operating in the city to find out the “real” sentiments, so that authorities would be able to arrive at realistic solutions. The meeting shall include members of the CMRB.
During the discussion, Na-oy, also an officer of Emerald Small-Scale Mining Association (Kias-PMA), said his group has been conducting regular environmental , health and safety programs for years, in collaboration with the government and non-government organizations.
Na-oy added that local small-scale miners were not hesitant to pay taxes as he appealed that their small-mining activity as a source of livelihood be legalized.
Fangloy, for his part informed Go that his group had come up with an aquaculture project – alternative source of livelihood.
“I firmly believe that farming and mining (small-scale) could exist together,” said Fangloy , as he informed Go that his group’s hard work has paid off, sourcing an international funding from Czech Republic for the said project-aquaponics.
“Okay yan. We could used it as pilot area for minahang bayan ,” Go commented, pointing out similar opportunities in foreign countries which he visited.