Baguio cracks down on illegal mining
The local government of Baguio City has renewed its crackdown on illegal small-scale mining following the discovery of more than 20 mine holes in the tourist area, some of them near major roads.
During the Philippine Mine Safety Environmental Association conference in Baguio City on Thursday, City Mayor and retired Police Gen. Benjamin Magalong said they had began closing illegal pocket mines in September in an effort to turn the city into a “no mining zone” as indicated in the city’s environmental code.
Magalong said they were targeting first semester of next year to rid the city of pocket mines and illegal miners.
Illegal mining operations have significantly compromised the city’s land safety, Magalong said, with the popular tourist site becoming more vulnerable to climate change, especially with floods and heavy rains that could cause landslides.
“Our [mountain] slopes have become very, very unstable. We learned that these were caused by illegal mining. And these are just in the slopes. How many more out there are potential danger zones?” the mayor said.
Following close coordination with the local government of Itogon and officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Magalong said 20 mining holes were discovered in various areas, some of them near Kennon Road.
Other holes were found near the famous Atok trail, the Philippine Military Academy, and the boundary of Baguio City and Benguet province, where illegal miners continue to process gold.
Unregulated mining continues to be an attractive source of income for uplanders since gold ingots command a high price in the black market.
But Magalong said the city “cannot sacrifice safety for profit.”
As alternative livelihood, he said the city could offer farming, marketing and sales programs, as well as livestock raising.
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