TUBA, Benguet –Fulfilling yet again its duty as a responsible miner, Philex Mining Corp. has paid P29.8 million in real-property tax (RPT) to the municipality of Itogon covering a five-year period for a proposed tailings pond in Brgy. Ampucao, an amount that could build 10 big classrooms and pay the salaries of 200 public employees for about four months.
“This marks another point in our harmonious relationship with Itogon, one of our host towns, the other being Tuba,” Eulalio Austin, Jr., CEO and president of Philex Mining, said. “We are happy that we have consistently helped build communities and contributed to nation-building through the taxes we paid.”
During Wednesday’s turnover of the check worth P29,812,407 at the Baguio Country Club (BCC), in Baguio City, Manuel Agcaoili, SVP at Philex Mining and resident manager of the miner’s Padcal operations in Benguet, said the amount represents 2 percent of the assessed land value representing 180 hectares for the would-be Tailings Storage Facility No. 4 (TSF4).
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said 50 percent or about P15 million of the total RPT, which covers from 2012 to 2016 and with back taxes to 2013 as required under a new tax declaration, is intended for the “basic fund”—40 percent or about P6 million for the municipality, 25 percent or P3.7 million for Brgy. Ampucao, and 35 percent or P5.2 million for the province of Benguet.
“The basic fund for my town falls under the annual general fund, which will go toward the improvement of the municipal gym,” stressed Palangdan, who has thanked and praised Philex Mining on various occasions for having paid its taxes religiously, not to mention the various social and environmental projects it has implemented for beneficiaries in the town.
The other 50 percent of the P29.8-million RPT is mandated for allocation for the Special Education Fund (SEF), to be equally divided between Itogon and the provincial government. Intended to fund the needs of public schools, SEF goes toward teachers’ salaries, the building of classrooms and other facilities, and the purchase of necessary materials.
Roselyn Dahilan, finance group manager at Padcal, said the P15-million SEF alone could build 10 classrooms for big classes of 30 – 50 pupils each.
The basic fund, on the other hand, could pay for the salaries of 200 employees in a first-class municipality for 3.7 months. The average monthly salary between SG 1 and SG 18, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on its website, is P20,100.
Agcaoili reiterated his earlier statements that Philex Mining would continue not to waver in fulfilling its tax obligations to both local and national governments, as part of its commitment to responsible mining—which the company, in fact, has brought a notch higher by putting a human face to it.
It may be noted that in the 12 years to 2015, Philex Mining had spent P86.5 million for its education program in Padcal’s host and neighboring communities, P40 million for its livelihood program, and P306 million for public infrastructure. The gold-and-copper producer had likewise spent P65 million for its programs on environmental protection since the 1980s, when the company-implemented reforestation projects took over from its community-based counterpart.
Agcaoili has said that Itogon and Tuba are two of the four first-class municipalities in Benguet, owing mainly to the significant economic impact of Padcal operations. The nine other Benguet towns listed under the third, fourth, and fifth economic classes are all into agriculture while three of the four first-class towns are predominantly mining communities.
Philex Mining accounted for P131.53 million or 45 – 47 percent of Itogon’s revenues for 2014 – 15 other than its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), which is its share of revenues from the national government. The host village of Ampucao posted a 2015 revenue of P22.9 million, or equivalent to the total revenues of five other barangays, also due to the impact of mining-related and real-property taxes from Philex Mining. And since local taxes account for only 5 percent of total revenues in Itogon’s seven out of nine barangays, the former villages depend largely on IRA.
Philex Mining, in the meantime, uses its TSF3 as a tailings pond. Its nearby TSF1 and TSF2, also in Itogon, had already been decommissioned and rehabilitated, and are now home to successful reforestation projects, teeming with bamboo grasses and ornamental plants.