Philex sustains reforestation projects

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Monday, February 18, 2013


PHILEX Mining Corporation today, Feb. 18, denied allegations that it had felled trees in parts of Itogon town in Benguet province for road construction, saying that the areas concerned—covering 50 hectares—have in fact been undergoing reforestation.

The company also lamented that the people it had entered into agreements with regarding some reforestation projects, a leased lot, and purchased lots in the said town have the same accords with the government involving tree-planting activities.

“How this came to be is also our question,” Libby Ricafort, vice president of Philex Mining and resident manager of Padcal Operations, said in a letter, dated February 11, to Baguio City’s Community Environment and Natural Resource Officer Edgardo Flor.

Ricafort was replying to the January 31 letter from Flor asking Philex Mining to submit a written position regarding the activities in Sitio Banao, part of Itogon’s Barangay Ampucao, after a complaint was sent to CENRO’s office in Pacdal, Baguio City.

Now it appears that some persons still entered into agreements with the government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) for several tree-planting activities, he said, despite them having several contracts with Philex Mining already.

Philex Mining had entered into a Family Base Reforestation Contract with a stakeholder on May 16, 2000, in connection with the company’s reforestation activities at 745ML, Sitio Banao, and Sitio Sidweng and their surrounding areas, also in Barangay Ampucao.

The company also has an existing memorandum of agreement with a separate stakeholder for another reforestation project in the area, according to Ricafort’s two-page letter to Flor, who is assigned at DENR-CAR.

Ricafort, meanwhile, has clarified that the parcel of land where the road constructed by Philex Mining in Sitios Sidweng and Banao for access to a tailings pond it is building traverses a lot leased by the company from the heirs of the landowner and the lots it purchased from the heirs of another landowner.

This comes after a published article on Wednesday alleged that Philex Mining had used bulldozers to fell Benguet pine and gemelina trees to open a road of 1.5 kilometers in length and 6 meters in width at the Lower Agno Forest Watershed Reserve.

Ricafort said that in 1989, casual and contractual workers hired by Philex Mining started planting trees at the town’s Mini Hydro area, covering 745ML, Talnag, Sitio Sidweng, and Sito Banao.

In 1999, a family-based reforestation projects covering 20 hectares were awarded to two stakeholders. Between 2010 and 2012, another reforestation project covering 30 hectares within Sitios Banao and Sidweng was awarded to another stakeholder. (PR)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 19, 2013.

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