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THE LOUISIAN ADVOCACY PROJECT 2016 1

THE ADVOCACY PROJECT


( POWER TO PEOPLE: ACHIEVING WELFARE, CONSERVING NATURE, &
PROHIBITING MINING IN ITOGON, BENGUET )

I.) THE BACKGROUND


In the name of peoples welfare in Itogon, the stakeholders must be given enough power to raise
their concerns and mitigate their agonies.

Itogon is set at the southern end of the Central Cordillera Mountain Range forms into an irregularly shaped
area oriented along the north-south direction. It is generally mountainous in terrain either deep valleys or steep
slopes. Elevation varies from 2,025 meters above sea level, particularly in Mt. Yabaong of Barangay Tinongdan in
northeast, to 100 meters particularly in the areas approaching San Manuel in Pangasinan at the Southern tip.
Consequently, Itogon, Benguet is more popularly known as the "gold haven" in the region. With the mineral
rich land and mountains abundant in crystal white to yellows to rich terra cotas and golds, rising from ordinary and
semi-arid landscape. However, Itogon as described it is a dangerous place to settle especially that the place was
shrinking and the roads was continuously collapsing due to destructive mining. Due also to the mining activity as
pioneered by Benguet Corporation, Mercury was mixed in the river in which todays situation their river can never
be used for fishing and any other form human activities because it was too toxic.
Currently, CNN Philippines reported that a community in Camanggaan, Itogon, Benguet had experienced
a sinkhole engulfment of several houses around 4 pm of October 22, 2015 after the devastation brought by
Typhoon Lando (with international name Koppu) in the province of Benguet. According to the Local Government
Unit of Itogon headed by Mayor Victorio Palangdaan, there are about 500 houses are located in the community
near the sinkhole. In addition, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) assured to conduct an investigation
regarding the area. The affected residents (70 displaced residents) were temporarily evacuated at the Virac
Elementary School.
However in NORDIS Special Report aired on YOUTUBE, Engr. Vergel Aniceto postulated that the Benguet
Mining Corporation has a direct contribution in the emergence of sinkhole in the featured area. He admitted that
irresponsible tunneling system constructed by the company beneath the land surface caused the shrinking of the
community. Moreover, Santos Mero, CPA appealed that MGB is also accountable in the situation since the agency
did not exhibit competent jurisdiction over the activities of the mining company. The MGB did not perform its rigid
monitoring scheme instead showed mediocrity to the company reports regarding mining development within the
area, that lead to the destructive and indiscriminate mining practices. Therefore, the welfare of the people has
been aggravated and the environment has been enervated!

A.) THE ADVOCACY VISION

This advocacy project signifies that welfare of the citizens in Camanggan, Itogon, Benguet must be
prioritized and protected through total prohibition of mining whether large-scale or small-scale in the
area by the year 2017 and by revitalizing the environment through active political participation to be
granted the local government in order to attain sustainable and environmental-friendly community
development.

As indicated in the above statement, the advocacy advanced by the group consists of three fundamental
components namely a.) welfare of the people of Camanggaan, Itogon, Benguet, b.) total prohibition of
mining in any forms, and c.) revitalization of environment. In order to achieve these components, the local
stakeholders must be equipped with active political participation by the government in managing the community
affairs. In addition, community-based researchers such as feasibility studies should be conducted in order to boost
the potentials of the area in finding alternative economic activities other than destructive mining activities. This
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advocacy project tries to formulate portentous indicators as to fully determine whether or not the advocacy project
became successful within a given time frame. The following table presents an elaborative discussion of these
indicators.
TABLE 1: KEY INDICATORS FOR THE SUCCESS OF THE
ADVOCACY PROJECT: POWER TO PEOPLE
INDICATOR DESCRIPTION
Banning of Mining
1.) Elimination of Mining Practices within -Denote total elimination of mining in Itogon, Benguet since the area is already exhausted
one-year span in the community. from mineral extraction.

2.) MGB should formulate stricter policies -Signifies that MGB should revised in rules governing mining activities especially in
against destructive mining. occupied mountainous areas to protect the welfare of the people and their ancestral domain
by initiating a political dialogue among the affected stakeholders and the mining companies.
Promoting Stakeholders Welfare
1.) Ensuring the right of safe inhabitation -Ensures that the stakeholders are living in good condition in the area.

2.) Right to information


-Ensures that the stakeholders has the access to information regarding the development of
the community
3.) Right to just compensation
-Ensures that the probable stakeholders to be affected by possible urbanization must be
compensated
4.) Right to community legislation
-Ensures that the stakeholders has the capacity to actively participate in community
legislation by engaging them in community planning together with officials, skilled
researchers and private sector.
Environment Revitalization
1,) Tree-planting scheme Environment Revitalization denotes a strategy in which the local stakeholders are
2.) Effective Land Management through fundamental agents of the state by performing environment-centered activities to preserve
agri-industrialization the quality of environment against destructive mining. These include tree-planting activities,
3.) Strong Soil Foundation through effective soil management and blocking of mining tunnels that creating sinkholes.
blockading mining tunnels by rock/concrete
filling.

B.) STRATEGIC ISSUE


In determining the main strategic issue, the following table applies a deductive approach known as the BUT-
WHY technique to equip the advocates with sufficient political sagacity and skills in solving the issue.

Table 2: The Application of BUT-WHY Technique in Tracing the Main Strategic Issue
PROBLEM: PROBABLE CAUSES:
THE PRESENCE OF SINKHOLE IN -Weakening of Soil Foundation in the area
CAMANGAAN, ITOGON BENGUET WHY? Destructive Mining performed by the Benguet Mining
Corporation
WHY? THE LGU and MGB has no competent jurisdiction regarding
the mining activity area in the area
WHY? Incompetent jurisdiction or monitoring is caused by lack of
political power among stakeholders in the community or sentiments of
the people are not properly addressed
*(feasible for advocacy planning)
WHY? Because of bureaucratic gains as manifested through
under-the-table transactions (bribery) between the government and
private sector
*(may be brought by heuristics; hard to mitigate in the system and
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this is the overall concern of the government)

The advocacy project hypothesized that the main strategic issue is the destructive mining in Itogon, Benguet
because of lack of political roles of Camanggaan stakeholders in managing their community affairs such as massive
ore extraction beneath the ground by the Benguet Mining Corporation.
The following table provides an analysis of the strategic issue selected including its causes, consequences and
probable solutions.
Table 2.1: Analysis of the Strategic Issue in Camangaan, Itogon, Benguet
MAIN STRATEGIC ISSUE: LACK OF POLITICAL POWER AMONG STAKEHOLDERS
CAUSES CONSEQUENCES SOLUTIONS
-Unstrict monitoring of mining activity for -Stakeholders well-being is sacrificed. -Increase stakeholders political
the part of MGB and LGU Right to safety inhabitation became participation in community affairs
-Incompetent jurisdiction of LGU in highly questionable because of management.
Itogon, Benguet destructive mining in the area -Revised MGB implementing rule and
-Lack of political motivation among local -Sinkholes start to emerge in the regulation to mitigate destructive mining
stakeholders in managing the situation community due to indiscriminate in the region
-Lack of regular geophysical tunneling system -Regular conduct of feasibility studies
assessment in the area -Poor community affairs management (community-based researches) to
-Enterprise avarice of the mining -The degradation of land quality is too ensure community safety at the same
company evident. community development
-Stop the massive mineral extraction in
the area

The group considered the lack of political power among stakeholders as the main quandary since it qualifies the
most of the criteria for strategic issues.
Table 2.2: CRITERIA FULFIILED BY THE SELECTED STRATEGIC ISSUE
ISSUE: Criteria Fulfilled
Lack of political power among -Successfully addressing the issue will result in a real improvement in
stakeholders in managing peoples lives.
-The selected issue is significant to the advocacy mission.
community affairs in
-The selected problem is consistent with our organizational priorities
Camangaan, itogon, Benguet -It is the root cause that will block the progress on other problems if not
addressed (grassroors-approach)
-The problem selected fitted the expertise of the advocacy project heads
-The affected stakeholders believed that the issue is very important
-The risks involved in addressing the issue are manageable
-The supporters and probable donors will fully support the advocacy
project addressing this issue
-Working on the issue allows the project heads to integrate programs for
greater impacts and results

C.) THE POWER MAPPING (STAKEHOLDERS ANALYSIS)


Table 3: POWER MAPPING OF THE ADVOCACY PROJECT
Targets Constituents Allies Opponents
-The local government units -The stakeholders (citizens) -The MGB personnels -Benguet Mining Corporation
in Itogon (barangay councils, in Camangaan , Itogon -DENR (Department of personnels
SB office) -Community-development Environment and Natural -Medium-scale & small-scale
-Key players in the area researchers Resources miners
-SLU-Department of Political -Environmental NGOs and -Families of the miners
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and Social Sciences well-respected international
students political actors such as
United Nations, GREEN
PEACE, etc.
-Anti-mining advocates
-Other interest groups and
party-lists in the CAR such
as ANAKBAYAN-CAR
Chapter, etc.

II.) THE ADVOCACY PLAY

THE ADVOCACY MESSAGE: POWER TO PEOPLE: Provide welfare. Conserve Nature. Prohibit Mining in
Camanggaan, Itogon, Benguet.

The advocacy promoting by the group is to simply provide the local stakeholders of Camanggaan, Itogon,
Benguet sufficient political power in order for them to engage in the community affairs in which destructive mining is
a primary concern in the area. According to ocular visit conducted by Mr. Norton Decoy and Mr. Clint Silver Ande,
project heads of the advocacy, the stakeholders inhabiting the sink-hole prone area are powerless in terms of
community affairs management since the Benguet Corporation mining plans is directly addressed to the municipal
government of Itogon and the residents have no power to oppose the activities most especially when the local
government already approved the mineral extraction of the company upon the recommendation of MGB. Therefore,
this project advocating the grant of political power among the affected stakeholders in Camanggaan will
strategically address the issue concerning welfare and environment because these stakeholders will gain enough
means to participate whatever projects to be implemented in the area. Moreover, total prohibition of mining in the
area will be also beneficial for them since several independent geophysical researches concludes that the
underground area in the Itogon, Benguet was totally extracted by the said Mining company causing now the
weakening of soil foundation.
A.) THE FUNDAMENTAL AIM OF THE ADVOCACY
The advocacy primarily aimed to provide sufficient political power among stakeholders in Camangaan, Itogon ,
Benguet by lobbying this concerned with proper agencies of the state; thus, if granted, the stakeholders will have
now the capacity to manage their communities and will have the authority to prohibit mining in the area for
conserving the environment. Therefore, the advocacy project sets a one-year period (divided into 4 quarters) to
implement the said projects by creating a network of academicians, NGO personnels, officials and community
development researchers.

B.) ADVOCACY OBJECTIVES


The following table provides a list of primary and secondary objectives set the advocacy project heads. These
objectives must be accomplished or must have improvements within a one-year scheme (with 4 quarters) to signify
improvements in the affected areas in Itogon.
TABLE 4: PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OBJECTIVES OF THE ADVOCACY PROJECTS
PRIMARY OBJECTIVES SECONDARY OBJECTIVES
-Empowerment of Camangaan stakeholders through -Initiation of public forum regarding citizens rights and
modification of local legislations and MGB policies welfare, the mining practice and the sinkhole problems in the
-Increase political participation of the stakeholders in the community
area -Formulate strategic budgetting scheme through increasing
-Formulate community policies involving the network supports.
stakeholders with the barangay LGU to manage further -Setting the issue into agenda through active lobbying in
community developments in the affected area proper agencies in the government
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-Institutional reforms in MGB -Livelihood training about agri-industrialization for the families
-Combating destrcutive mining in the area by total banning in the area
of mining to both large-scale and small-scale mining -Boosting the morale and reputation of Saint Louis University-
companies Department of Political and Social Sciences by involving the
-Seek alternative economic programs that are institution in the agenda-setting of the advocacy
environmentally-convenient to sustain community growth and
development

C.) THE ADVOCACY OUTPUTS AND STRATEGIC PLANS


The following table is a tabular presentation of the plans related with the advocacy project. It consists of the
advocacy aim, objectives, activities, advocacy campaigning tools, outputs and expected outcomes.

TABLE 5: THE ADVOCACY PROJECT FRAMEWORK


ADVOCACY AIM The fundamental purpose of the advocacy project is : TO PROVIDE POLITICAL
POWER TO PEOPLE BY TAPPING THE GOVERNMENT IN ORDER FOR THEM
TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE THEIR COMMUNITY AFFAIRS AND PREVENT
FURTHER EFFECTS OF DESTRUCTIVE MINING
ADVOCACY OBJECTIVES The specific objectives of the advocacy project is to: To empower stakeholders in
managing their community affairs, to assist them in conserving the environment
and to educate them about the consequences of destructive mining in the area.
ACTIVITIES The advocacy projects will be conducted several activities such as:
A.) Publishing a community development research about mining in the community and
geophysical assessments about sinkholes; B.) Conducting Public Forum about the
predicaments of destructive mining and the empowerment of political participation in the
area; C.) Online campaigning about the total banning of mining in the area; D.)
Livelihood simulation trainings among stakeholders to still pursue community
development
CAMPAIGNING TOOLS -Distributing at least 30,000 leaflets within Benguet province about the effects of mining,
environmental degradation and lack of peoples participation in the issue
-Posting at least 500 posters in several establishments in the province such as in
schools, restaurant, recreational centers, etc.
-Media publication through written forms (such as newspapers) and online forms
(Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Tumblr, Google News, Instagram)
-Public Consultations among stakeholders, LGUs, MGB personnels, academicians and
researchers (increasing network supports)
- Petitions (campaign against mining in Itogon, Benguet) and Demonstrations in Benguet
Mining Corporation if the mining company is still insensitive to the concerns of the
stakeholders
-Advocacy Fun Run to raise awareness in the region
OUTPUTS As the implementation of advocacy project, it is expected that the following outputs must
be produced: a.) 1 Community Development Research; b.) at least 3 phases of public
consultations to attended by at least 200 people ; c.) 1 Social Event (Fun Run to Raise
Awareness) to particpated by at least 500 individuals; d.) Online publication articles; and
e.) At least 2 mass demonstrations in Benguet Mining Corporation
OUTCOMES The advocacy project is believed to achieve the following goals:
SHORT TERM: The issue will become the agenda of both local and national legislation;
thus, raising awareness and become feasible for political actions of the government
toward the affected stakeholders.
MEDIUM TERM: To gain sufficient funding in the community affected to still pursue
community development without the intervention of profit-oriented companies
LONG TERM: To ensure the welfare of citizens in the area by providing safe and
environmental-friendly community that can be enjoyed by the succeeding generations in
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Itogon. Benguet

D.) THE OUTCOMES: THE ROADMAP FOR ADVOCACY


The following table provides the proposed time frame (advocacy roadmap) in achieving the aims of the advocacy.
TABLE 6: ROADMAP FOR ADVOCACY (4 Quarters)
June-August, 2016 -Conducting Community Development Research (Analysis of Sinkholes, Mining
(1 st Quarter) Problems, Political Participation of Stakeholders)
-Public Consultation (Additional Advocacy Planning Strategies); PHASE 1
-Fundraising Activities
a.) Social Event (Fun Run)
B.) NGOs Sponsorship
September-November, 2016 -Public Consultation & Sectoral Dialogues (Stakeholders, LGU. NGOs, MGB
(2 nd Quarter) Personnels, BMC Company)
-Lobbying concerns to Local/National Legislative Office
-Reformulation of MGB Rules and Regulation about mining
-Raise Awareness through Social Media, Online Blog Sites and Publications
December, 2016-February, 2017 -Total Banning of Mining (Transitional Policies: The Benguet Mining Corporation is
(3 rd Quarter) obliged to compensate the affected families of the destructive mining)
-Implementation of MGB Revised Rules
-Environmental Activities (Tree-planting, Blockading the mining tunnels through
concrete filling)
March-May, 2017 -Livelihood seminars
th
(4 Quarter) -Stakeholders training in parliamentary procedures (for formal community
discussions)
-Education campaigns (about environment and community management)

Sources:
Agrera, J. (2015). Sinkhole in Itogon Benguet Worries 500 Households. www,cnnphilippines.com.ph (retrieved April 10, 2016)
_______. (2015). Benguet Sinkhole Engulf Houses. www.mb.com.ph (retrieved April 10, 2016)
_______. (2015). NORDIS Special Report: Benguet Mining Corporation and Unrehabilitated Mining Tunnels. www.youtube.com.ph
(watched April 10, 2016)
Itogon Citizens. (2016). The Itogon Sinkholes and their Experiences. (Interviewed by N. Decoy and C. Ande; April 02, 2016)