TUBA, BENGUET -- Philex Mining Corp. reassured outlying communities at its Padcal operations it will continue to distribute fairly its socioeconomic projects among them, as both parties agreed to engage the services of an independent expert to look into more pressing concerns like water sources.
This develops as officials of local government units, leaders of the indigenous peoples (IPs), and other residents in the host and neighboring villages met recently with Philex Mining officials led by Victor Francisco, VP for Environment and Community Relations, and ComRel Manager Aurora Dolipas and some officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
The discussion focused on Philex Mining’s Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) and other concerns including the alleged depletion of water sources in a host village.
“I assure you we will continue to implement a fair distribution of the projects—just as what we have been doing—that are intended for our host and neighboring communities,” Dolipas told IP leaders and other clan representatives from the host barangays of Camp 3, in Tuba, and Ampucao, in Itogon and the neighboring barangays of Camp 1 and Ansagan (Tuba) and Dalupirip (Itogon) with a total population of more than 27,000 in 7,896 households.
Felizardo Gacad, chief of Mining, Environment and Safety Division at MGB-CAR or Cordillera Administrative Region vouched for Philex Mining’s position almost all SDMP projects are identified by the outlying communities themselves during consultations in their respective areas.
“Questions on the fairness of distribution should already be raised at this stage, not on any other stage, especially the stage when these projects are already being implemented,” Philex Mining said in a response projected on a big screen for all to see, following complaints of alleged selective implementation of a number of social projects.
The company added most signatories to the complaints filed before some government agencies late last year have been participating in community consultations regarding the implementation of SDMP.
Asia Gabino, one of the prime movers of the complaints, had been a recipient or beneficiary of some SDMP-funded projects. From January 28, 2015 to January 1, 2016 alone, she and her husband, Marlon, implemented through contracts with Philex Mining some SDMP projects in their area—Sitio Torre, Barangay Camp 3—to the tune of P9.34 million.
Eddie Amuasen, chairman of Barangay Ampucao, got the support of all parties when he suggested a third-party expert be engaged to look into complaints concerning water sources in Barangay Camp 3, allegedly owing to the ongoing drilling conducted by Philex exploration team in Sitio Alang.
Hydrogeologist Mario Sandoval, of the Aqua-Dyne Technological Service, Inc., debunked the alleged correlation between the ongoing drilling and water-supply depletion as Philex officials agreed with Amuasen’s suggestion, which was in response to some reactions from the floor questioning Sandoval’s credibility as he was invited to talk by the MGB alone.
Earlier, Dolipas said the company allotted P110.48 million for the various projects on social development, information dissemination, and research for the improvement of the mining industry. This means a total budget allocation of P730.48 million for the said projects between 2003 and 2017. (PR)