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Eligible claimants from Itogon, Benguet sign check vouchers and quit claims as they receive their damage compensations

 

On February 17, 2021, eleven (11) claimants finally received their compensation for the damages incurred by a tailings leak in 2016 at the Liang Tailings Storage Facility of the Benguet Corporation-Benguet Antamok Gold Operation (BC-BAGO).

A total amount of Php 511,050.17 was released from the Mine Waste and Tailings Reserve Fund (MWTRF) and were distributed to the eligible claimants from Itogon, Benguet by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera Administrative Region (MGB-CAR) in a simple program held at the MGB-CAR Conference Hall.

Section 189 of DENR Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2010-21, the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7942, otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, states that Mine Waste and Tailings Fees (MWTF) shall be collected semi-annually from each Operating Contractor/Lessee/Permit Holder based on the amounts of mine waste and tailings it generated for the said period.  The fees collected accrue to the Mine Waste and Tailings Reserve Fund and are deposited in a government depository bank to be used for payment of compensation for damages caused by any mining operation.

BC-BAGO had complied in paying the required MWTF as per said provision for the Mine Waste and Tailings generated when it was in operation.  Thus, when the unfortunate tailings leak incident happened, all eligible claims for payment of damages were charged to the MWTRF.

Amounts received by the claimants depended on the extent of damages to their agricultural/pasture lands and lost/washed-out irrigation hoses and other facilities.  Said amounts were determined based on the assessment, validation, and recommendation of the Regional Investigation and Assessment Team (RIAT) that was further reviewed and finally approved by the Contingent Liability and Rehabilitation Fund Steering Committee (CLRFSC), that administers the MWTRF.

Forty-one (41) applications for claims were filed with the RIAT, chaired by MGB with representatives from the regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), who assessed and validated said claims and forwarded its recommendations to the CLRFSC for approval.  These claims were grouped into two: twelve (12) applications for damaged agricultural/pasture lands and lost/washed out irrigation hoses and other facilities; and twenty-nine (29) applications for lost gold panning and sluicing implements.

After a thorough evaluation of the assessment results presented by the RIAT, the CLRFSC concluded that only eleven (11) were entitled to compensation.  A claimant for damaged irrigation dam was removed from the list because of failure to provide proof of its existence.  On the other hand, the CLFRSC found no basis to award compensation for the other group of claimants considering that they were operating as small-scale miners without the corresponding permits from the government offices concerned.

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A claimant receives check from Engr. Alfredo Genetiano, chief, Mine Management Division, representing RD Fay W. Apil, with Ms. Amy Ramos and Ms. Elizabeth Daisa of the Mine Safety, Environment and Social DEvelopment Division.

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Claimant signs receiving voucher for the compensation.