TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. and its host towns of Tuba and Itogon have pushed for a more inclusive planning and implementation of the various projects on social development and environmental protection, as they vowed to cooperate further on the humanization of responsible mining.
This develops following the recently held founding anniversaries of the respective towns—which have become first-class municipalities mainly due to the economic impact of Philex Mining’s Padcal operations in Benguet—as well as the consultations done earlier by the company with the said local governments.
Mayors Ignacio Rivera and Victorio Palangdan, of Tuba and Itogon, respectively, have both expressed gratitude to Philex Mining for having paid its taxes religiously—a gesture returned by company officials for the continuous support extended by the host municipalities to the miner, which accounts for the bulk of the towns’ annual revenues.
In a speech during Tuba’s 105th Founding Anniversary, held Dec. 11 with songs and dances at the grounds of its Municipal Hall, Ignacio said he “appreciates and is thankful” for the timely payment by Philex Mining of the required taxes, which have helped his administration uplift the lives of his constituents through various livelihood and other social projects.
“I also thank Philex Mining for having fulfilled its tax obligations,” said Palangdan—whose town celebrated its 116th Founding Anniversary, held Dec. 15 in Itogon’s Fianza Memorial Gym—in various occasions organized by Philex Mining. He also said the funds have been used to for various projects, including farm-to-market roads and livelihood assistance.
Manuel Agcaoili, SVP at Philex Mining and Padcal resident manager, congratulated Itogon during its founding-anniversary celebration enlivened by cultural presentations, saying,
“Thank you for your continuous support, and Philex Mining hopes to further our partnership in moving further toward sustainable development.”
In earlier consultations held separately by Philex Mining with Tuba and Itogon, the towns’ respective officials and the company, represented by Agcaoili and Victor Francisco, VP for Environment and Community Relations (ComRel), agreed to strengthen the involvement of the host towns at the municipal level in the implementation of social and environmental projects.
Whereas ComRel had dealt mainly with the barangay officials with regard to the allocation of its Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) in the past, it would now include the municipal officials in the consultation, planning, and implementation of these projects required by government through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
“This realignment is to realize our plan to be more inclusive of our consultations with regard to community development,” Agcaoili had told the officials of Tuba and Itogon in separate occasions.
Agcoili and other Philex Mining officials said the company would not waver in fulfilling its tax duties to both local and national governments, as part of its adherence to responsible mining; the company, in fact, has realized this principle further by putting a human face to it through the implementation of social projects to improve the lives of stakeholders in outlying communities.
Besides the millions of pesos in social and environmental projects it implements annually in the host and neighboring villages, Philex Mining had contributed more than P10 billion in regular and mining-related taxes toward the government coffers from 2011 to 2015. This is composed of 100 percent of the required regular taxes amounting to P6.6 billion as well as the mining-related taxes totaling P3.5 billion.
Philex Minng also accounted for P131.6 million or 76 – 85 percent of Tuba’s revenues, excluding its IRA or Internal Revenue Allotment, through various paid taxes covering 2014 – 15. This is almost on a par with the town’s P161-million allocation of IRA, which is a local government’s share of revenues from the national government. For Itogon, Philex Mining accounted for P131.53 million or 45 – 57 percent of revenues other than IRA for 2014 – 15.
Agcaoili said that Tuba and Itogon are two of the four first-class municipalities in Benguet, where nine other towns listed under third, fourth, and fifth economic classes are all into agriculture. He added that three of the four first-class towns are predominantly mining communities.
In the host barangay of Camp 3, in Tuba, the 2015 revenue hit P18.5 million, which is equivalent to the total revenues of eight barangays, owing to Philex Mining’s share in mining-related taxes. And 12 of the town’s 13 barangays depend largely on IRA, as local taxes account for only 6 percent of total revenues.
In Itogon’s Brgy. Ampucao, another host village of Padcal operations, last year’s P22.9-million revenue is equivalent to the combined revenues of five barangays, also due to the impact of mining-related and real-property taxes from Philex Mining. Also, seven of Itogon’s nine barangays depend largely on IRA, as local taxes account for only five percent of total revenues.
Brgys. Camp 1 and Ansagan, in Tuba, and Dalupirip, in Itogon, make up Padcal’s neighboring communities. Both host (Camp 3 and Ampucao) and neighboring villages are called outlying communities, with 7,896 households or a combined population of 27,266.