By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The provincial board members of Benguet in their session Monday scheduled a special dialogue that will tackle the Mining Exploration of Royalco Philippines Incorporated in Gambang, Bakun on October 4, 1:00 PM at Ben Palispis Hall of the Provincial Capitol.
Board member Apolinario Camsol shared before the body the result of the first dialogue held in Gambang, Bakun regarding this issue last September 3. He told the body about the pronouncement of Mayor Contada of Bakun to suspend the mining exploration of Royalco while the pro-mining exploration and the anti-mining exploration groups reach a collective decision. Contada’s decision he said was influenced by the persisting conflict between the two groups.
Camsol said that they have scheduled October 4 with the concerned community in Gambang as well as the municipal and baranggay officials. He added that by the said dialogue the people of Gambang wanted all the concerned agencies including governor Fongwan to be present. It was remembered that the NCIP failed to attend the earlier dialogue.
Meanwhile, Atty Roman Antonio, the counsel of the pro-exploration, affected land owners in Gambang submitted a letter addressed to the vice governor Cresencio Pacalso stating that Contada’s decision in the last dialogue is vague. Moreover, he said the decision disrupts the operation in phase 1 and 2 that has nothing to do with the clamor of those against the mining exploration in phase 3.
Furthermore, Antonio regard the mayor’s decision as implausible. “…legally speaking, we humbly believe the honorable mayor have had the limited power to give suggestion, the power to stop still lies with the MGB and NCIP “, Antonio stated in his letter. He added that the permit has been aquired after the proponent company and those in favor followed the requirements of the law religiously.
Antonio believes the issue could be settled amicably and that according to him, the parties would be spared from expensive and arduous processes.
However, mayor Contada said in a phone interview that he knows that his pronouncement is not legal. He said he made the pronoucement because the community cannot settle into a collective decision during the September 3 dialogue. He added that his decision is fair amid the strong opposition, specially in phase 3, to the continuing mine exploration.
Moreover Contada said he recognizes the responsibilities of MGB and NCIP but he raised a question, “how will this issue be settled if the NCIP is not participating in the process. “I even personally lobbied in their regional office regarding this but they just told me that the decision must come from the national office”, Contada reiterated.
He is hoping that during the next dialogue, NCIP will attend. # nordis.net