June 1, 2023

Barangay officials in Itogon and Tuba, Benguet that are impacted by the mining operations of Philex Mining Corporation are appealing to the company for the allocation and distribution of its Social Development Management Program (SDMP) fund equally to its host and neighboring barangays.

The barangay councils of Dalupirip, Itogon and Ansagan and Camp 1, Tuba passed resolutions requesting Philex, which operates the Padcal Mining Development Project within host barangays of Ampucao, Itogon and Camp 3, Tuba, to allocate and provide equal share of the SDMPF, which is one percent of the direct mining and milling costs annually allocated by a mining firm (contractor/permit holder) to its host and neighboring communities to assist them in their development to promote the general welfare of its inhabitants.

Barangays Dalupirip, Camp One, and Ansagan are neighboring communities affected by the Padcal project.

The local officials are appealing that the one percent SDMP fund be divided equally among the host (Ampucao and Camp 3) and neighboring barangays (Dalupirip, Ansagan, and Camp 1), as Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2000-09 defines a host and a neighboring barangay as a collective unit.

The officials said at the onset the Philex management made its SDMP only for the two host barangays, and it is only recently it included the three neighboring barangays. However, the latter are allocated “meager shares, which are way below” than that allocated to Ampucao and Camp 3, thus depriving Dalupirip, Ansagan, and Camp 1 of their right to equitable and inclusive development as set forth by law.     

The three barangays have passed their respective resolutions of request as early as July this year, and came up with a tripartite Barangay Resolution 002, s. 2020 on July 28, a copy of which was furnished Philex on July 29.

The resolution is backed by the Sangguniang Bayan of Tuba and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet.

Punong barangays Atos L. Adones of Ansagan, Cipriano C. Balinag of Camp One, and Paul M. Camantiles of Dalupirip wrote Philex through its Resident Manager Vic Morris A. Yodong to follow up their request on Dec. 4.

“We seem to have been ignored and neglected, as we have received any official response from your end regarding the matter despite the fact our request is reasonable and founded on pertinent provisions of the mining law and its implementing rules and regulations,” the PBs stated in their letter to Philex.

Camantiles, in an interview, said for 2021, Dalupirip, Ansagan, and Camp 1 stand to get around P3.3 million each, while Ampucao and Camp 3 may get P30M to P34M each from the SDMP fund.

Atty. Eduardo Aratas, Philex Legal Division head, told the Courier on Friday they are currently studying the applicable laws and consulting with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau central office for proper guidance on the SDMP allocation and distribution.

He said Philex is willing to make the SDMP beneficial to as many communities as possible, as long as there is basis for it and upon consultation with the host barangays of Ampucao and Camp 1 if they would be amenable to the appeal of the three neighboring barangays.

“For us, it is okay if more would benefit from the SDMP and from any assistance that we could provide, but the equal sharing depends on the two host barangays since there will be diminution of their share. But we are agreeable to any agreements they could agree upon and as long as the law provides for it,” Aratas said.– Hanna C. Lacsamana