Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan urged the administration to consider re-opening the small-scale mining industry to aid the residents of the region and the inhabitants of small-scale mining areas amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Most of the affected residents of the enhanced community quarantine in the area are the same people, particularly miners and their families, who were affected by the Typhoon Ompong in September 2018.
“Our people have not yet recovered from the devastation brought by Typhoon Ompong in 2018 and we have COVID again. Hindi pa ho nakapag-simulang makabalik sa trabaho, ito na naman,” Palangad was quoted as saying in a Philippine News Agency report.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a cease and desist order for small-scale mining and its related activities in the whole region; thus, leaving thousands of people jobless.
He also sought the assistance of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año to urge DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to consider easing the requirements of the application of the Minahang Bayan to allow small-scale mining industry operations.
“We are asking for DENR Sec. Cimatu, thru DILG Sec. Año, to relax the rules and guidelines on small-scale mining to let the affected miners work and have means to provide food for their families who were affected by the COVID-19 crisis,” he stated.
Furthermore, Palangdan also sought the immediate release of the unexpended revenues from the development and utilization of the National Wealth Resources of the municipality for COVID-response measures.
According to the report, Palangdan said they have requested for the DILG to represent them to the Department of Energy (DOE) and allow mining towns like them to use the unexpended amount from the National Wealth Tax remitted by companies to the DOE.
“We requested [DILG Secretary Año] to use a portion of the unexpended 80 percent of the revenues derived from the development and utilization of our National Wealth on Water Resources of the municipality to be used for COVID-19 –related expenses,” he said.
Palangdan said that the P20-Million fund will go a long way in addressing the effects of the global health crisis on his constituents.
“We can make use of it, but it has to be released by the DOE,” he expressed.
The local government unit of Itogon has exhausted its Quick Response Fund and the Bayanihan Grant to municipalities – or a one-month equivalent of their internal Revenue Allotment – to provide assistance and relief goods to the families in the area.