By JONAS CABILES SOLTES
TALISAY, Cam Norte: For a mining group in Paracale, the order from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to stop all small-scale mining in their town is a death sentence that will cut townsfolk from their only source of livelihood.
Mike Dolera, who spoke for the Paracale Allied Miners Association, in a protest rally in front of the residence of CamNorte Rep Renato Unico Jr (first district) in this town, said the mining accident on Nov 20 in Barangay Palanas that killed at least three small-scale miners could not be enough reason to shut down small-scale mining in Paracale and affect 90% of the small-scale miners in their municipality.
At least 60 small-scale miners participated in the protest.
“Many depend on small-scale mining in Paracale.
Mining is the only source of livelihood that sends children to school. Even the tricycle drivers and store-owners indirectly benefit from it. Stopping mining in Paracale is like a death sentence,” said Dolera.
He said Rep Unico had not been doing Paracale folks a favor by supporting the order to stop small-scale mining.
Unico was sought for his reaction but he did not reply to calls and text messages.
Dollera said no one intended the accident to happen and small-scale miners had been familiar with the risks all along and had been careful.
“Accidents can happen anywhere,” said Dollera.
He lamented that small-scale miners in CamNorte had been treated like criminals “when they were just making a living.”
“Why are we being singled out? What we need is our livelihood. Can they give us alternative sources of income once mining is stopped?” Dollera asked.
He said small-scale mining was “better than killing for a living.”
“Mining in Paracale is almost 400 years old. Many have been dependent on it. We are not criminals who would just be stopped when they want us to stop,” he added.
According to him, they have been asking the MGB to give them small-scale mining permits.
“We are willing to follow procedures. Just don’t stop mining in Paracale. There is no need,” he said.
He said even large-scale mining firms that have the technology still encounter accidents.
“We appeal to the government to show us care and concern also. We are not criminals,” he said.
Dollera said each seaside mining pit in Paracale could produce from P30, 000 to P40, 000 worth of gold and additional income every week, which could be lost once mining is stopped. – Bicol Mail