Youth group challenges Benguet officials to take a stand for the future

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — A youth group in the mining communities of Benguet Thursday challenged local officials to support the people’s growing opposition to mining ventures in the province.

“Tumakder da koma iti posisyon ti umili nga isardeng ti panagminas a makadadael ti pagbiagan ken pagnanaedan,” (They should take the people’s stand to stop mining that destroys people’s livelihood and communities) Rina Mangili, 25, a resident of Ucab, Itogon told the media during the Mining Conference at the ATI/NTI Training Hall in Benguet State University, here.

Mangili, Anakbayan-Benguet spokesperson, is among the participants to the conference, which also launched the Benguet Mining Alert Network later in the afternoon.

As a young girl who grew up among small scale miners and corporate miners, Mangili saw the dwindling mountain resources. The mines left the people with so little tracts of land on which to plant food crops, she said.

Mineral extraction also caused the lowering of the water table. Upper Ucab of around 3,000 persons, has devised a system of rationing water from a tubed source. According to Mangili, each household is entitled to fill only one five-gallon container per day to avail of the potable spring water.

“No kayat dagiti tattao ti ad-adu, agsakdo da iti rabii,” (If people want more, they have to fetch water at night time) said Mangili. She quipped the usual queue lasts up to 10:00 P.M. or even later.

Mangili also mentioned the sinking areas in Tuding, also in Itogon.

Itogon has been host to big mining companies. Benguet Corporation has been in the town since 1903. Philex Mining Corporation, the only remaining active mine site, in the Itogon boundary with Tuba, has been mining since 1958. Itogon-Suyoc Mines has temporarily stopped operations but is now negotiating with Anvil, and Tiger Company, both foreign mining corporations.

A power point presentation by Mary Carling during the conference carried digital renditions of sinking areas in Mankayan, where Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company has been mining for gold and copper since 1936. Of late, the Crescent Development Corporation has acquired an exploration permit and has been exploring for minerals since last year.

Mangili said the youth has to take a stand for the future. “We shall inherit an environment left scarred by mining operations if we do not act now,” she said.

Even the people’s culture is endangered and is facing extinction due to mining. “When people are displaced from their traditional livelihood, they lose their identity as a people,” Mangili said. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorthernDispatch)

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