IT’S no surprise why the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) recently called on the government to get tougher against illegal small-scale mining (SSM) activities in the country.
It made the call following reports that dozens of small-scale miners in Ucab, Itogon, Benguet fell victim to landslides at the height of Typhoon Ompong.
Illegal small scale mining does not employ stringent safety practices required of legitimate large-scale mining operators.
The victims in Ucab are part of the illegal gold mining activities near an old abandoned bunkhouse of Benguet Corporation, a member of COMP.
The area is a few kilometers away from the company’s Balatoc and Dalicno underground mines in Itogon.
Reports said Benguet Corp. had sent numerous letters to small scale mining operators in Ucab ordering them to vacate the area as it had been identified by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as a geohazard zone prone to landslides.
Nevertheless, Benguet Corp., along with Philex Mining Corp., were said to have deployed their rescue teams in partnership with the MGB- Cordillera Autonomous Region to actively participate in the search, rescue and retrieval operations in Ucab and other areas where their assistance is needed.
There were no reported casualties in the host mining communities of Benguet Corp. and Philex.
All other COMP member-companies in Northern and Central Luzon also mobilized their rescue and relief teams in their respective host mining communities.
MGB estimates that more than 60 percent of the gold mined in the Philippines are from unregulated small scale mining operations. Apart from endangering the lives of poor mining workers and destroying environment, illegal small scale mining do not pay taxes.
They are the breeding ground of other social ills such as child labor, prostitution, illegal drugs, gun running, and use of banned toxic chemicals.
Where there’s MMDA, there’s bad traffic.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) can’t make up its mind on what to do with the corner of Roxas Boulevard and Gil Puyat.
Just a few weeks ago, traffic at the said intersection was managed by a traffic light which allows vehicles coming from the World Trade Center area in Gil Puyat to turn left on Roxas Boulevard.
That was supposed to be an improvement as one no longer has to proceed to the U-Turn slot near Taft Avenue to get to Roxas Boulevard going to Manila.
But lately, things are back to what it used to be in that intersection where traffic is managed again by MMDA enforcers who do not allow that useful left turn.
Many are tempted to make the turn and proceed to do so but they are quickly flagged down by ‘alert’ MMDA enforcers.
At any rate, there are buses parked along the midsection of Buendia just after the World Trade Center and immediately before the intersection, causing vehicles to slow down or even stall.
The parked buses are in full view of the MMDA enforcers who seem to be ignoring the apparent traffic violation.
I can only laugh at the usual observation that: “Basta may MMDA enforcer, matrapik.”
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