Illegal miners tunneling Banaue Rice Terraces
Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2013 - 4:31pm

 

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – After repeated denials by Ifugao officials, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has discovered illegal mining activities in at least four sites at the Banaue Rice Terraces.

Engineer George Baywong, MGB-Cordillera Supervising Science Research Specialist George Baywong has found that Poblacion, Nompolia, Baang and Wangwang sites at the more than 2,000-year-old heritage sites in Banaue are being mined by locals illegally.

Earlier, Ifugao officials denied persistent reports of mining activities along the World Heritage Site in Ifugao.

Earlier, mining permits were denied by the MGB on at least two firms- Shipside Inc. and the Horizon Resources Corp.– because their applications were lacking in consent from the local residents.

Reportedly, however, the same firms are trying to ask government to think twice about their applications at the midst of mining operations in the area.

MGB accounts for 106 small scale mining groups in the highland Cordillera. Most are not covered by mining permits.

He said Abra has 14 groups while Apayao has 10, Kalinga with eight, Mt. Province with four, Ifugao with three and Benguet with 67 groups.

Most of the groups in Benguet province are operating illegally in Itogon. The MGB said the town, a site of an ongoing gold rush, is most problematic in terms of small scale mining operations. 

MGB claims miners insist on their illegal activities despite orders from government to halt these.

Such a gold rush now, Baywong explains, is being driven by the present high command of gold in the market reaching P2,000 plus per gram.

Gold was earlier pegged only at P300 per gram.

The poverty situation, Baywong admits, forces miners to persist on their activities even without permits and the government’s current ban in zones identified as perilous and tourist areas.

BAANG AND WANGWANG BANAUE RICE TERRACES BAYWONG BENGUET CORDILLERA SUPERVISING SCIENCE RESEARCH SPECIALIST GEORGE BAYWONG ENGINEER GEORGE BAYWONG HORIZON RESOURCES CORP IFUGAO MINES AND GEOSCIENCES BUREAU MINING MT. PROVINCE
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