By Ben Serrano,
BUTUAN City — The regional directors of two national government agencies are at a quandary where to place the 20,589 mining workers who will be displaced once the mining firms in Caraga region will be closed.
Atty. Evelyn R. Ramos, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole 13) in an interview told Gold Star Daily that based on her actual visit, out of the total 14 Caraga mines recommended for closure by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary only 13 remained operational.
“Per check by our personnel on site and physical visit, talks with workers, local government officials, community people in Claver, Surigao del Norte the other day (Feb. 8), Claver Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC) already closed shop a year ago. So out of total 14 only 13 mines recommended for closure remain,” Ramos said.
Ramos admitted no convergence yet as of this writing among all gov’t agencies and the private sector since her agency has only started collating data for number of dependents of direct and indirect workers of the 13 Caraga mines. She added their agency’s concern is on the displacement of workers who will be affected of the mass closure.
“But Dole 13 is always ready and prepared in case said mining firms will be close as we have the Tulong Pangkabuhayan for Displaced and Disadvantage Workers (Tupad) and the Special Program for Employment of Students (Spes) for dependents of mine workers,” said Ramos.
She said there are total of 10,900 direct workers or directly employed with the 13 mining firms in Caraga region facing closure while 9,689 were indirect workers, contractual, job orders, drivers and helpers of truck haulers contracted or outsourced by mining firms and unskilled lumad workers indirectly hired from communities.
For his part, DENR 13 regional executive director Charlie E. Fabre in a phone interview, also admitted that said convergence of all government agencies and private sector to find solution for the 20,589 workers are still in planning stage.
“We have yet to meet all by Feb. 15-16 as there will be Planning Workshop to be held there in Butuan City for all private and government stakeholders on mining. On Feb. 17-18 similar activities will be held in Surigao City where Dinagat mines, local government officials and others are to converged too,” Fabre told Gold Star Daily in the same phone interview.