TUBA, Benguet – Saying that Philex Mining Corp. is one with the media in carrying out the truth about responsible mining, the company’s CEO and president has thanked journalists in Baguio and Benguet for their balanced reporting as he said that both parties would continue as partners in developing the mining industry further.
“Our past successes will ensure us that we will succeed, and our past failures will ensure us that we are strong enough to overcome our failures,” Eulalio Austin, Jr., who expressed confidence that the coming year would be good for the company, told 40 journalists from 21 media outfits Wednesday night at the Venus Park Hotel, in Baguio City.
He also said that the mining industry can, indeed, be a catalyst for economic development when done responsibly—something which Philex Mining has been doing the past six decades in Tuba and Itogon, the host towns of its Padcal operations in Benguet. And the company is showing no signs of slowing down on the humanization of its commitment to sustainable development.
“One of our goals for the coming year is for Philex Mining to raise the bar of public opinion about the mining industry,” Austin said during the Dec. 14 dinner party dubbed “A Get-Together with Our Media Friends in Baguio and Benguet,” which was hosted by the company at the hotel’s Olive Grand Ballroom, with the Singing Miners, an all-male choir of Padcal mine, providing the entertainment.
On behalf of the press corps, Dexter See, Cordillera correspondent for the Manila Standard Today and editorial-board member of the Baguio-based Herald Express, thanked Philex Mining officials for taking a time off their hectic schedules and spending a night of food, drinks, and music with the media practitioners.
In his message to the company, See also stressed that the regional press would continue to support responsible mining, saying that Philex Mining’s social and environmental programs being implemented in its host and neighboring communities have been reported by the media. He also lauded the company’s generous compensation to its employees as well as the benefits derived by its stakeholders.
See was also responding to the presentations done by Philex Mining on its Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) and on its being a major employer and taxpayer.
Manuel Agcaoili, SVP and Padcal resident manager, illustrated that 90 percent of the workforce at the company’s gold-and-copper production in Padcal come from near its mine site, and that Philex Mining’s 2016 allocation for various community projects as well as for information campaign and industry improvement reached P110 million.
He added that Padcal’s 1,890 employees and workers have an average compensation package much higher than their counterparts in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Metro Manila. The employees also enjoy free housing and utilities, free education for their children, health-care services, and rice subsidy.
This means that the P622 daily, entry-level minimum wage in Padcal is 118.2 percent higher compared to P285 in CAR and 27 percent more than the P491 in the National Capital Region (NCR). But the average total daily wage of a Padcal employee amounts to P1,057 including productivity bonus, bereavement leave and assistance, group life and accident insurance, vacation and sick leave, night differential overtime pay, paternity/maternity, etc.
Agcaoili also said Philex Mining has played a significant role in community development, nation building and economic progress, contributing P10.12 billion in regular and mining-related taxes to the government coffers between 2011 and 2015. The company, he stressed, had paid 100 percent of the required regular taxes amounting to P6.6 billion as well as the P3.5 billion in mining-related taxes in the five years to 2015. In other words, Philex Mining paid 153 percent in taxes for the said period.
The officer-in-charge of Padcal’s Community Relations (ComRel) Dept., Joemar Pritos, said that in the 12 years to 2015, Philex Mining had spent P86.5 million for its education program in the outlying communities (both host and neighboring), P40 million for its livelihood program, and P306 million for public infrastructure like farm-to-market roads, school buildings and medical facilities, among other projects.
Jimmy Lozano, a news anchor at Baguio’s Z Radio 98.7, told the dinner party that the press corps supports Philex Mining’s “advocacy on responsible mining,” reason why the media practitioners had agreed to attend the event—enlivened by the choral music provided by Padcal’s Singing Miners—even on a short notice.