TUBA, Benguet December 18 – Concerned leaders of the various indigenous cultural communities in Tuba and Itogon are now questioning the sincerity of the Philex Mining Corporation in its commitment to fully implement all the projects funded under the company’s Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) projects for the benefit of host and neighboring communities.
Remy Dum-ao, one of the community leaders of Camp 1, said it seems that the leadership of the Padcal mines has become reactionary and selective in the implementation of the identified SDMP projects for last year and the present year, saying that the company has even recorded a significant backlog in the implementation of project since last year.
Dum-ao disclosed a concrete example of the reactionary mood of the company is the settlement of its over P1 million obligation for the scholarship of some 30 beneficiaries from the host and neighboring communities last and the present schoolyear where Philex only paid its obligations to the schools recently after she raised the matter to the management.
Based on her research, Philex was not able to settle the tuition and miscellaneous fees of the company’s scholars with Benguet State University (BSU), St. Louis University (SLU), University of Baguio (UB), University of the Cordilleras (UC) and Ifugao State University (IFSU) since last schoolyear.
Further, she alleged that the allowances of the students coming from the host and neighboring communities of the company were not also paid to them since last year.
Dum-ao narrated that after she raised the issue to management, Philex immediately went to the different schools to settle their accounts and event to the extent of partially settling their obligation with the students by paying them only one month instead of the accumulated several months of allowance.
“If Philex Padcal management easily released the amount of over P7 million as advance payment for the controversial mine simulator, how come it took them some time to release the more or less P1 million obligation to the schools and the students. Ironically, the students who were beneficiaries of the company’s scholarship program were not even fully paid of their allowances which they deserve to be given on time,” Dum-ao stressed.
She asserted the earlier stand of the indigenous peoples in the affected communities that the company must implement all the programmed SDMP projects without any backlog as well as to consult them in the future identification of similar funded projects in the future in the spirit of the harmonious working relationship between the company and the host and neighboring communities.
She reminded the company that the endorsement of host and neighboring communities in the realization of future projects of the company is required, thus, they mean business in what they demand because it has been committed and identified through the help of the indigenous peoples themselves.