Philex part of success in transparency

TUBA, Benguet  –  Philex Mining Corp. is delighted that time, effort, and resources it spent supporting recommendations for more transparency in the extractive industries have borne fruit, following an assessment of the Philippines as the first country to meet all the requirements set forth by an international-standard group.

“We are happy that we had done our share toward this successful and internationally acceptable assessment,” said the company’s CEO and president, Eulalio Austin, Jr. “This is, indeed, a welcome development and a breath of fresh air.”

He had repeatedly told various forums that at the end of the day after a company had conscientiously done its share of responsible mining, including the religious payments of taxes as well as the implementation of various programs on social development and environmental protection it would be the various stakeholders who would speak in its behalf.

In its assessment released Oct. 5, the board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) noted the Philippines’ pioneering efforts in using data drawn up by the Norwegian-based nonprofit group to drive and encourage government reforms as well as public debate.

“We are proud that we had been a part of this endeavor in and for the extractive industries, particularly mining,” Austin said. “It’s no mean feat that the Philippines now serves as a model to other countries in terms of complying with the EITI Standard.”

On May 12, Philex Mining said in a statement that it welcomed and supported the EITI recommendations for more transparency in the extractive industries, including the posting online of fund releases, strict monitoring of how taxes are spent, disclosure of local-government shares to trace backlogs, and a system to keep tabs of royalties due to indigenous peoples (IPs).

“I’ve always said this—that you can look at our records, look at how we do things, and so you could speak for us,” Austin said in that statement, which followed the release of the third EITI report on the Philippines. “We find reports such as these as the best way for us to show you how we operate.”

In its Oct. 5 statement, the EITI quoted its chairman, Fredrik Reinfeldt, as saying: “I congratulate the Philippines on its use of the EITI Standard to build trust, generate public debate and reform policy, which serves as example to other countries.”

Reinfeldt added, “Meeting all the EITI requirements is a milestone for the EITI and, more importantly, a significant achievement for all the stakeholders in the Philippines that have supported EITI implementation. I urge them to continue to ensure progress, particularly in the coal sector where further work is needed to ensure full transparency.”

The third PH-EITI report, whose objectives remain the same as those of the first two reports, has advanced the country’s current position in terms of information clarity and transparency, as well as ensured accessibility of data on revenues—making it easier to reconcile procedures in tax payments made by companies, for instance—from the extractive sector. The report, which has 330 pages covering the fiscal year 2014, was launched May 11.

“Working through differences but with a singular goal in mind has been the framework of PH-EITI,” Asst. Sec. of Finance and Chair of PH-EITI Teresita Habitan said in the group’s Oct. 5 statement. “What has been validated for the Philippines is the perseverance of all stakeholders to do what is right and what is best not only for the extractive industries but, more importantly, for the country and our people.”

EITI’s Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG), which put the report together, recommended that certification of tax collections be posted on the website of the concerned agency or the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), which is tasked to directly release LGU shares under the new guidelines. The agency may be the Department of Finance (DOF), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), or Department of Energy (DOE).

It may be recalled that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had requested the collecting government agencies to include in the certifications they submit to BTr all the information required by EITI, following recommendations by the first and second PH-EITI reports on the “disaggregation” of LGU shares in national wealth.

By HENT

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