TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. has turned over five infrastructure projects—under its 2016 annual budget allocation—worth over P6 million to Itogon town’s barangay Ampucao, an event graced by government officials and described by Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso as a result of good relations between the company and its stakeholders.
All located along the Philex Road, the projects are the P3.6-million rehabilitation of a sloped protection wall in Sitio Samuyao; construction of a P1.25-million slope protection wall in Sitio Upper Camp; a 25-meter long grouted riprap worth P537,773 in Sitio Ud-udan; a 26-meter long grouted riprap in Sitio Balekangkang worth P391,516; and a 16-meter long grouted riprap with perimeter fence in Sitio Sta. Fe worth P285,711.
“We know that Philex has been religiously implementing various projects in its outlying communities through its SDMP,” Pacalso said in the vernacular during formal ceremonies at the Barangay Hall of Ampucao, on Thursday, July 20. “The management of these projects’ implementation has been good. There has been participation and cooperation with the communities.”
SDMP, or Social Development and Management Program, covers health, education, livelihood projects, and public infrastructure. The current year’s budget for SDMP, IEC (Information, Education and Communications) campaign, and DMTG, or Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences, is mandated as 1.5 percent of a miner’s total operating expenses in the previous year. Of the 1.5-percent, 75 percent goes to SDMP, 15 percent for IEC, and 10 percent for DMTG.
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan also confirmed the good relations between Philex Mining and its host and neighboring communities, especially the municipality of Itogon, citing, for instance, the ongoing building of an agricultural high school that would help his town pursue and support the national government’s program on basic education.
Philex Mining has provided P16 million to build a two-story Itogon Agricultural National High School (IANHS), in Sitio Ayosip, Brgy. Poblacion, which will have 10 classrooms and two faculty rooms to accommodate senior high-schoolers (Grades 11 & 12) who would enroll by the next school year. It also said it would build a teachers’ quarters when the IANHS was done.
The Department of Education, in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), was tasked to assign the Benguet State Universtiy, in La Trinidad, to provide the academic support, especially its expertise on agricultural studies, for the IANHS. The school would help the agricultural sector to prosper, thereby enhancing livelihood programs in the region.
In the July 20 turn-over, Philex Mining and officials of barangay Ampucao as well as of Itogon vowed to monitor the infra projects for their maintenance.
For Itogon and Tuba, which host Philex Mining’s Padcal operations in Benguet, the company has completed P40.34 million worth of projects, such as farm-to-market roads, bridges, electrification, and potable water systems, from 2016 until the first half of this year.
In a statement late last month, Aurora Dolipas, manager of Community Relations (ComRel) Dept. at Padcal mine, in Tuba’s Sitio Padcal, Brgy. Camp 3, said the total amount represented 60.23 percent of the P67-million budget allotted for the various infra projects under its 2016 SDMP.
She also said that more projects were ongoing, and that the company had been working very hard to deliver these during the second semester. “These as much represent our commitment to community development as our adherence to responsible mining over the past more than six decades of operations,” she was quoted as saying.
The statement said a total of 67 projects were delivered to outlying communities (both host and neighboring) last year, to the tune of P24.5 million or 36.58 percent of the 2016 total infra budget of P66,987,723.13.
During the first half of 2017, the company completed P15.84 million worth of infra projects that were part of the 2016 SDMP, with those delivered between April and June alone amounting to P5.95 million and, for the first quarter, P9.88 million.
Philex Mining had set aside P81.53 million for its 2016 community-development projects under the SDMP, which covers Camp 3 and Ampucao for its host barangays, as well as Camp 1 and Ansagan (both in Tuba) and Dalupirip (Itogon) for its neighboring barangays.
In a 2016 report submitted to the regional Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), in Baguio City, Philex Mining said it allocated P16.31 million for its IEC or media and public campaign on the various benefits derived from mining, and another P10.87 million for the development of the industry through its DMTG.
An agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), MGB is tasked to regulate the mining industry.
Philex Mining had allotted a total of P110 million for its 2016 SDMP, IEC, and DMTG based on its 2015 operating expenses of P7.3 billion. Its SDMP-IEC-DMTG allocation for this year, on the other hand, amounts toP110.48 million.