A large crowd from the 7 Barangays of kibungan gathered at the Municipal covered court of the Municipal hall of Kibungan Ponlacion last January 30, 2015 to show their opposition to large scale mining. They invited the Honorable Ronald M Cosalan who is the representative of the lone district of Benguet to receive their Community and Barangay resolutions against large scale mining. The IPs wanted to show their officials and the Mining investors that in Kibungan large scale mining is very destructive to their water sources and their agricultural lands.
Indigenous people from Lobo and Palina who experienced the adverse effect of mining spoke out. They testified that there was no restoration by the mining company after their lands were explored and minerals were mined out. They expressed their frustration that the past mining activities made their lands poor and sunk their water sources.
The congressman in his message to the IPs said that, out of eight mines that operated in Benguet, it did not make Benguet a rich province. It is actually the agriculture industry that is sustaining it. Those mines that stopped operation have not made noticeable contribution to development of the Province but instead it made the areas of operation inhospitable to progress. Being the author of the Indigenous peoples rights act, He told the crowd that their resolutions to exempt kibungan from large scale mining will be submitted to congress for deliberation. However he informed them that while this particular remedy is being processed to become a law, the people have an existing RA 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights act of 1997 that will protect them from the large mining investors. He told them of the Free Prior Informed Consent that must be recognized and respected from the affected IPs before any mining related activity starts.
The meeting with the officials have some issues to be resolved, endorsements by the Sangunian bayan and the sangunian Panlalawigan have to be made. Endorsement and transmittal of the documents as part of the procedural process has to be complied makes things complicated to the ordinary IPs of Kibungan who patiently wait for the outcome.
The Pakedlan di BENETEN, an NGO is assisting them on their plight against abuses not only of the Mining investors but the complications of bringing out their problems and to be heard. Hoping to be acted upon by the concerned officials and Government agencies, yet there is a lingering doubt that still hang in the air.