February 9, 2023

If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a community to protect its women and children.
The recent rape-slay of a 10-year-old girl in a mining community in Itogon, Benguet has mobilized the residents living in the bunkhouses of Philex Mining Corporation to double up security measures to avoid compromising the safety of vulnerable members of their family like women and children.
“It is unfortunate and we were really shocked,” Philex Mining Corporation Legal Department head Eduardo Aratas said in a press conference.
He said an incident of such magnitude is the first recorded in the community albeit he did not discount that there may have been cases of sexual exploitation that might not have been reported.
On the part of the company, he said there will be a re-layout of the bunkhouses to limit the number of users of communal areas especially the toilets and bathrooms. He said their engineers have also inspected the toilets and bathrooms to ensure that these areas are voyeur-proof.
There are three types of accommodation at the Philex mining community. One is for the rank and file who are provided with communal toilet and bath for eight to 15 families, the semi-basement for supervisors, and the detached management quarters, which have toilets and bathrooms exclusive for the use of the occupants.
The residents agreed that minors who intend to use the toilet or the bathroom should be escorted.
The company also gathered the barangay officials and members of the community for an education campaign on how to strengthen the reporting system should a similar incident occur.
Itogon Mayor Vic Palangdan previously asked Philex Mining to institute changes in the bunkhouses following the outbreak of Covid-19 cases among miners and their families.
Palangdan and other town officials reiterated the same suggestion following the rape-slay case early this month where the suspect is an occupant of one of the bunkhouses and an acquaintance of the victim’s parents.
Even before the suggestion of concerned officials, Philex Mining has started instituting measures to ensure the safety and health of residents.
“We were able to manage spread of the virus. It’s unfortunate that (after measures to lessen the number of people at bunkhouses), this (crime) happened. It is shocking,” Aratas said of the incident that devastated the close-knit community of miners.
Suspect Gilbert Salinas, 40, of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan, is presently detained and is facing murder and rape charges. – Rimaliza A. Opiña