BAGUIO CITY—The Philippine Military Academy’s (PMA) Fort Del Pilar has been declared a “no-mining zone,” one of the first areas to receive this classification here following the issuance of Executive Order No. 79, the mining policy of President Benigno Aquino III.
EO 79, issued on July 6, requires government agencies to segregate environmentally vulnerable regions that may not host any form of mining activities.
Capt. Agnes Lynette Flores, PMA spokesperson, said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) had informed the academy about its new status on the same day it held a dialogue with pocket miners operating inside the PMA reservation.
Alfredo Genetiano, officer-in-charge of the MGB Cordillera mine management division, said government mine engineers, geologists and the Benguet Provincial Mine Regulatory Board have concluded that the whole PMA reservation stands in an area that is prone to landslides, based on the 2010 geological hazard maps of the MGB.
The new mining policy enumerates areas closed to mining applications, including “critical areas, island ecosystems and impact areas of mining as determined by current and existing mapping technologies that the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) may identify.”
But the PMA has been asked to allot a portion of its reservation as site of a Minahang Bayan, which EO 79 also promotes, said Genetiano.
The Emerald Mountain Explorers Association Inc. (formerly the Kias Explorers Association) has asked PMA officials to allow pocket mining at the 1-hectare Nugget Hill, which could be reclassified as a Minahang Bayan zone.
In cases like this, Genetiano said “no-mining zones” may still host small-scale mining, provided the agencies or people who have custody of these lands approve of these changes.
He said government experts are also required to conduct further studies to determine if the property can cope with mining operations.
In 2009, 10 pocket miners were killed in a landslide triggered by the onslaught of Typhoon “Kiko” near the PMA reservation in Barangay Kias. The miners tried to rescue five of their companions who were pinned by an earlier rockslide, according to records of the Office of Civil Defense. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon