Philex Mining vows continued engagement with Itogon folksWednesday, March 6, 2013
An official at Philex Mining Corp.’s Padcal Mines has vowed to continue working with families living along Balog Creek’s convergence area with Agno River, in Itogon town, in order to make them more self-reliant, as many residents expressed willingness to work for the company.
“I can assure you that Philex Mining will continue to create and support livelihood programs for you and provide free basic services in your area, so that you’d be more self-reliant in the near future,” Feliciano Diso, Jr., manager of Community Relations (ComRel) Department at Padcal Mines, told a multiparty-attended forum at Sitio Pangbasan, in Benguet’s Itogon town on Tuesday.
Mr. Diso and his team of ComRel officers stationed at Pangbasan hosted a public forum in the said sitio, in Barangay Dalupirip, where representatives from the local government units (LGUs) of Itogon and Tuba, the host towns of Philex Mining in Benguet province, and provincial government agencies also attended after the inauguration of a hanging bridge built by local residents and Philex workers.
Blas Dalus, executive assistant of Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan, and Mr. Diso cut the ribbon as they unveiled the 140-meter hanging bridge, with an elevation of 80 meters over Agno River, which connects Sitio Pangbasan and the sub-sitio of Kanagjan near Balog Creek.
The P900,000-hanging bridge—with Philex Mining providing the counterpart fund of P600,000 to the provincial government’s P300,000—will mostly be used by 41 families living in Sitios Pangbasan, Terong, Pau, and Ambalanga, and the sub-sitio of Kanagjan.
Mr. Diso said that ComRel officers have been teaching residents in Pangbasan and its adjacent sitios to do organic farming and organic livestock raising, in order for them to have alternative sources of income besides fishing and gold panning. Pilot projects were created in Pangbasan, he added.
Community leaders, meanwhile, have appealed to Philex Mining to regularize the employment of 16 residents from Pangbasan who have been hired to work at the construction site of Padcal’s open spillway in Itogon.
Other residents were interested to know if they would have a slice of the P1.034-billion in fees that Philex Mining recently paid to government regulators over the tailings-spill accident last Aug. 1 that has affected the Balog Creek and its convergence area with Agno River.
“We are going to create a legal investigation team that would look into various claims that we may receive in connection with the tailings-spill accident,” Virginia Briones, science research specialist at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), in Baguio City, told the public gathering of less than 100 people.
Virginia Briones, science research specialist at MGB-CAR, responding to a question at a public forum Sitio Pangbasan, in Itogon, Benguet
on Mar. 5
Mr. Dalus, who is also president of Tuba Indigenous Peoples Organization, told the participants that they should continue to work for the betterment of their barangays, and relay any concerns to the office of the provincial government through their respective LGUs.
Marcial Wasit, representing the National Power Corp., wanted to know what Philex Mining intends to do with the sediment that accumulated on the convergence area while the company is waiting for its high-powered machines purchased from Canada that would pump the silt back to Tailings Pond No. 3.
San Roque Power Corp.’s Laurencio Cornell suggested that the cleaning up of the convergence zone should be done “half-mechanized and half manual,” in order to provide employment for more people in Sitio Pangbasan.