T’boli, South Cotabato – Bantay Kita, Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM), and the Provincial Government of South Cotabato collaborated in a multi-stakeholders forum on small-scale mining revenues, environment programs, and community benefits.
The activity was attended by tunnel owners, indigenous peoples (IPs), local government unit (LGU) officials, representatives from barangays Kematu and Desawu, and representatives from AFRIM and Bantay Kita.
The forum provided a venue for the stakeholders present the production report and the Social Development Management Program (SDMP) implementation status as well as the revenues and royalties collected from small-scale mining for the year 2014.
Revenues collected from small-scale mining in South Cotabato amounted to Php 2.04 million. Other fees collected from ore transport permits and verification of small scale mining amounted to Php 118,000 and Php 334,000 respectively.
According to Beverly Besmanos, Bantay Kita subnational program officer, the Province of South Cotabato set the bar high in regulating small-scale mining in the area. However, the province’s monitoring mechanisms are limited to revenue collection. The LGUs could not assure the communities that these revenues go to social development and environment programs.
In order to fill the gaps in monitoring, the group agreed to subject all financial reports for reconciliation including the Tribal Mining Corporation (TMC), the only large-scale mining company operating in T’boli, South Cotabato. They also emphasized the need to establish reporting mechanisms for IPs in South Cotabato for them to account for the royalties they receive from mining companies.
The Provincial Government of South Cotabato has been a partner of Bantay Kita since 2013 in the implementation of capacity building trainings for small-scale miners and other stakeholders in the extractive industry in the area.