Before we climbed the mountain ranges of Kibungan on January this year, we visited some group of locals in the area such as in Bukan and Palina, Kibungan. We had forum on mining. These fora were facilitated in the presence of Bishop Utleg who is the current chairman for National committee on Indigenous Peoples of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines.
The indigenous peoples have presented their sentiments, views and facts regarding mining in their respective places. We listened to their speeches as Bishop Utleg responded to their battlecry and supports it. The locals expressed firmly their disgust over the issue and they are truly against lobbying of the mining exploration efforts.
According to them, there were few families who favored the issue but they are not the representatives of the community. Our group specifically the Laoag Mountaineers Club is supporting them not to allow mining explorations in the area because it will destroy and corrupt their rich natural resources. The locals also fear that water may be depleted and may not be available for their fields.
On the lighter side, I appreciate very much the local people especially the old folks for they are so very warm and kind. They talk with sincerity and heart. They even dance with the guests like me. They prepared snacks composed of native delicacies. I had so much fun interacting with them.
Again, I would like to reiterate that they should stop mining exploration in the province of Benguet. Let’s protect the environment, let's preserve Mother Earth!