The House Committee on Natural Resources has given the green light to declare the municipality of Kibungan in Benguet province a mining-free zone.
The House panel, chaired by Surigao del Norte Cong. Francisco Matugas, has approved and endorsed HB 5957 or “An Act declaring the Municipality of Kibungan, Benguet a large-scale mining-free zone and providing penalties for violations thereof.”
“Large-scale mining causes ground sinking, various illnesses due to pollution and dangerous chemicals used and produced in the mining process, depletion of water resources, and destruction of the environment as a whole,” Benguet Cong. Ronald Cosalan stressed.
Kibungan town, Cosalan said, has been recognized as an ancestral domain of the indigenous people in the area by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). They were given the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADI) No. CCAR-KIB-0240-016.
He noted that with the efforts of the Kibungan Kankana-ey Tribe and the local government of Kibungan, the 10-Year Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) was formulated in November 2006.
Furthermore, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of Kibungan, which was based on the ADSDPP, spells out the uses of the ancestral land as primarily for agriculture, cultivation of high value crops as primary source of livelihood, communal water shed, communal forest, pasture lands, cemetery, parks and institutional purposes, among others.
“Kibungan supplies indigenous rice and highland vegetables to Regions I, II and the National Capital Region,” Cosalan pointed out.
Kibungan also boasts of beautiful sceneries of distinct cultural and ancestral heritage like the Les-eng rice terraces surrounded by solid rock formations, the century-old Palina rice terraces that turn golden yellow near harvest time and the rocky mountain walls which are favorite destinations of local and foreign tourists.
Under HB 5957, “it shall be unlawful for any person to engage in any mining operation in the Municipality of Kibunga, Province of Benguet.”
The bill provides: “Any person found guilty of violating the provisions of this Act shall be penalized with an imprisonment of at least six years but not more than 12 years and a fine of at least One Hundred Thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than Five Hundred Thousand pesos (P500,000.00).”
“If the offender is a corporation, firm, partnership or association, the penalty shall be imposed upon the officer or officers of the corporation, firm, partnership or association responsible for the violation thereof,” the measure also provides.