Benguet miners barricade

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynon

Miners of the Dontog-Manganese Pocket Miners Association (DOMAPMA) barricaded against the big mining company Benguet Corporation, Inc. (BCI) in Sitio Dalicno, Itogon, Benguet on May 13. The barricade is part of their struggle to defend their rights to land and livelihood against BCI’s forced seizure of DOMAPMA’s pocket mines and unjust increases in mining equipment rentals.

At the behest of the BCI, local agencies imposed a ban against DOMAPMA’s small-scale mining operations on the basis of “regulation” and “environmental issues” allegedly caused by the operation. The miners believe that this is just a pretext for the BCI to encroach in the area.

About 500 to 1,000 workers will lose their livelihood due to the illegal stoppage of their livelihood. This will also affect the livelihood of the indigenous people in the community and neighboring barangays, and even in other provinces in the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley who work here.

Even before banning small-scale mining operations, BCI had already tried to operate in DOMAPMA areas, including some parts of the barangays of Ampucao and Virac. The company colluded with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to railroad and falsify documents for a special permit. They aimed to circumvent the process of obtaining a Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from the area’s indigenous people.

Before this, the residents of Barangay Ampucao built their own barricade against the abusive and plunderous BCI last April. They demanded lower rental costs for mining equipment.

Benguet miners barricade