Benguet, together with Abra, Apayao, Baguio City, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mt. Province comprise the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in Northern Luzon. It has a mountainous terrain of peaks, ridges and canyons; and a temperate and generally pleasant climate. Benguet lies southernmost in the Cordillera Administrative Region and is known for its rich mineral resources.
Over the centuries, gold trading was among the major economic activities in Benguet. Gold mining was traditionally a supplemental livelihood activity that Benguet natives engaged in while waiting to harvest their crops. Practicing artisanal methods then, small scale miners did not use dynamite nor chemicals to extract and process gold. The number of small scale miners in Benguet eventually grew since the 1980s with the closure of commercial mines, the increasing global price of gold and the diversification of income sources of poor upland dwellers.
The contribution of small scale mining to the national economy is recognized; hence Republic Act 7076, “An Act Creating a People’s Small Scale Mining Program and for Other Purposes” was issued in 1991. This was followed by Executive Order No. 79, Series of 12, (Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector Providing Policies and Guidelines to Ensure Environmental Protection and Responsible Mining in the Utilization of Mineral Resources) and other Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Orders.
Small scale mining continues to thrive in Benguet despite the absence of permits and unresolved issues confronting the enforcement of related laws.
To help address this, the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) Grant Fund under the USAID/Facilitating Public Investments (FPI) implemented by the Development Alternatives, Incorporated funded Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc.’s project entitled, ”Strengthening Multi-Stakeholder Participation in Small-Scale Gold Mining Governance In Benguet” from December 5, 2017 to April 30, 2018.
The FPI supported the Philippine Government in expanding public and private investment in the Philippines through higher tax revenue and public expenditure reforms. The EITI Grant Fund was a component of USAID/FPI intended to promote activities designed to: expand and promote more meaningful civil society organizations (CSO) engagement in the EITI process; increase transparency and accountability in the management of the extractive sector; and, contribute to sustainable reforms in extractive sector governance.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a global standard for transparent and accountable management of natural resources, including the oil, gas, and mining industries. The EITI standard seeks to strengthen government and company systems, and promote inclusive participation among industry players, including the government, the business or private sector, civil society, and local communities. The Philippines was admitted as an EITI candidate country in May 2013; since then, the Philippines-EITI (PH-EITI) has taken steps to achieve an EITI.
This project in Benguet province aimed to:
- conduct a scoping study to determine the extent of small scale gold mining in Benguet province;
- engage government, i.e. DENR, MGB, NCIP, and local governments in promoting transparency and accountability in the small scale mining sector in 13 municipalities of Benguet province;
- increase public understanding and awareness of the impact of small scale gold mining on natural resource governance, small scale mining laws and EITI standards in 8 small scale gold mining communities;
- organize an interim Benguet provincial multi-stakeholder group (MSG) that will sustain efforts in promoting transparency and accountability in the local small scale gold mining sector.
The project was conceptualized in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Benguet Provincial Government, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and the Benguet Federation of Small Scale Miners.
The project aimed to promote transparency and accountability in the Benguet small scale mining sector through more active participation of government agencies having a mandate related to small scale mining, small scale miners, indigenous people’s organizations, civil society organizations, academe & other stakeholders.
Outcome 1: Increased public understanding of the management of Small Scale Mining in Benguet province.
The project aimed to increase the knowledge of the public & multi-stakeholders on the status & management of small scale mining in Benguet by generating & disseminating updated information on the sector; make available information on small scale mining in Benguet through a website; and, to evaluate and disseminate project results.
Outcome 2: Multi-stakeholders participate in the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), the Municipal and Barangay Monitoring Councils.
The project aimed to increase the number of multi-stakeholders who are engaged in the PMRB & the monitoring councils foremost by acquainting them on the roles and functions of the Board and clarifying each government agency’s & LGU mandates and processes in relation to small scale mining; orienting them on relevant laws; and equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge on performance monitoring, the EITI standards, and the geographic information system (GIS).
Outcome 3: Small Scale Mining Sector understands their responsibilities, roles and rights.
This was to be achieved through capacity building activities to increase the number of small scale miners who are knowledgeable of the law and eventually, the number of small scale mining cooperatives/ associations that are able to comply with MGB requirements.
Outcome 4: Multi-stakeholder group agreed on a common action plan for moving forward on the small scale mining sector.
TARGET AREAS: 8 small scale gold mining municipalities in Benguet Province
- Local Government Units (LGUs) of Benguet Province & municipalities of Bakun, Bokod, Itogon, Kabayan, Kapangan, Mankayan, Tuba, Tublay
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
- Environment Management Bureau (EMB)
- Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)
- National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
- Benguet Federation of Small Scale Miners