ITOGON, Benguet – The management of Benguet Corporation (BC) questioned the suspension order handed down by the environment department against its operation, citing that the grounds upon which the agency issued the stoppage order are minor ones which could easily be addressed by the company.
In his letter to Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez, BC OIC Resident Manager Antonio Buenavista pointed out a full reading of the agency’s mine audit report suggests that BC substantially passed the stringent audit, thus, for the welfare of the more than 4,000 employees, miners, and stakeholders, including their families who are directly and indirectly dependent on the continuous operations of the company, it is in the best interest of the State to allow the firm to continue its operation.
“The DENR mine audit report categorically declares that BC is substantially compliant with the pertinent provisions of Republic Act 7142 or the Philippine Mining Act and environmental laws, rules and regulations.,” Buenavista stressed.
The BC official claimed there are inconsistencies in the DENR mine audit report which appears to be minor but taking in its entirety are serious and vital that creates doubt as to its veracity.
In the DENR mine audit report, it stated in the objective portion that Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company and in the other portions, it speaks of the area as Mankayan instead of Itogon if it had to refer to BC.
“What causes eyebrows to arch is the fact that the company subject of the audit is Benguet Corporation and not Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company. In the same vein, Benguet Corporation is located within Itogon, and not Mankayan. These inconsistencies are serious and misleading. As a matter of fact, it is evident that these are cut and paste portions taken from another mine audit report. It quotes that the mine audit report covering BC was half-hazardly prepared thereby tainting the results as half-baked,” Buenavista added.
According to him, the subject of the mine audit report is the current BC operation in Acupan which is the Acupan Contract Mining Project, a form of community-based mining wherein the company opened its Acupan underground mine to small-scale miners to be operated under a production sharing agreement and that the current operation is being operated within BC’s patented property.
Buenavista asserted Antamok was not part of the scope of the mine audit report and its scope was the current BC operations in Acupan, thus, it should be underscored that Antamok and Acupan are distinct and separate.
As per review of the mine audit report and all available pertinent documents, he argued that the Antamok area was not mentioned as part of the audit nor was even part of the audit teams’ visit and inspection, thus, the company is confused why the Antamok area was made as one of the basis for the issuance of a stoppage order when in truth and in fact, no audit had transpired in the area.
He explained had the Antamok area been included in the mine audit, BC had all the documents that would show that it has not abandoned its rehabilitation.