TUBA, Benguet – The Philex Mining Corporation reported it is religiously depositing the share of the indigenous peoples (IPs) of the municipality to the agreed trust account being maintained in one of the famous banks in the country contrary to earlier rumors that it allegedly stopped releasing the share of the IPs pursuant to an earlier agreement.
Philex president and chief executive officer Eulalio B. Austin, Jr. said that the company does not want to severe its good relationship with the IPs living in the host and neighboring communities of its mining operations thus it is religiously depositing to the agreed trust account the share of the IPs even if the established indigenous peoples organization was ordered to cease and desist to exist after the cancellation of its registration by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) several years ago.
“We are bounded by the commitment we made pursuant to our memorandum of agreement with the affected IPs that is why we were never remiss in releasing to the trust account their prescribed share which is supposedly used for their socio-economic projects,” Austin stressed. It will be recalled that sometime in January 2008, Philex Mining Corporation forged an agreement with the then Indigenous Peoples of Alang, Pokis, Sabian, Sta. Fe, Oliba and Luacan (IPO-APSSOL) for the company’s continued mining operations within the ancestral domain of the concerned Ibaloi and Kalanguya tribes.
Under the said agreement, the IPs gave their consent to Philex to continue its Padcal mine operations in exchange for a share equivalent to 1.25 percent of the company’s gross output representing their royalty pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which mandates companies intending to develop, utilize and exploit the rich natural resources of the State to pay the agreed royalty to the IPs having domain over the said areas of operations.
Austin expressed optimism that the feuding factions of the organization will realize that the royalty is intended for the benefit of the present and future generations and that should get their acts together to be able to access the deposited share.
The NCIP was constrained to cancel the registration of the IPO-APSSOL with the office after serious allegations of misuse and failure to account for the withdrawn huge amounts of money from the trust account by former officials of the organization, among other issues were raised rendering the group already non-existent to date.
The Philex official encouraged the elders of the concerned tribes to intervene in the existing conflict to thresh out possible solutions for the eventual revival of the organization and for them to start accessing the funds for their own communal benefit.
So far, three out of the six clans comprising the organization agreed to settle their differences performing rituals to settle their rifts.
Philex was incorporated as a company in 1955 and started its large-scale mining operations in Padcal, Camp 3, here, a few years later having been one of the prestigious mining companies that have existed over the past several decades.