Photo shows a landslide caused at the height of typhoon “Mangkhut,” named “Ompong” in the Philippines, that buried people at a mining camp in Itogon, Benguet on Sunday. REUTERS

MANILA – The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines on has urged the government to intensify a crackdown against illegal small-scale mining after landslides killed miners in Benguet during the height of typhoon “Ompong.”

Illegal small-scale mining does not employ the same safety practices observed by legitimate large-scale mining operators, the chamber said in a statement.

The group said victims in Ucab, Itogon were part of the illegal mining activities near an abandoned bunkhouse of Benguet Corp.

COMP said Benguet Corp had issued numerous letters to illegal operators asking them to vacate the area as it has been identified as “geohazard zone” prone to landslide by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

Benguet Corp along with Philex Mining Corp have deployed rescue teams in partnership with the MGB and the Cordillera Autonomous Region “to actively participate in the search, rescue and retrieval operations in Ucab and other areas.”

Death toll in the Cordillera rose to 54 on Monday morning while 42 are still missing in Itogon, Benguet.

Department of Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday ordered the cease and desist of all illegal small-scale mining in the whole Cordillera Autonomous Region.

“We ask small scale miners to cooperate and stop all small scale mining acts here. The DENR will be sending men from PNP and PMA to effect the stoppage of all mining acts specially here in Itogon,” Cimatu said in a press briefing. (ABS-CBN News)

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