TUBA, Benguet – A conscientious way of responsible mining is not just about ensuring the implementation of socioeconomic and cultural as well as environmental projects in the outlying communities, but also seeing to it that the benefits derived from these would trickle down to as many beneficiaries as they can reach—a schoolbuilding, for instance.
Such are the sentiments of Philex Mining and government officials about the just concluded turn-over of a building that houses the science laboratory of the Laurencio Fianza National High School (LFNHS), in Brgy. Dalupirip, Itogon, one of the company’s two host towns—the other being Tuba—for its gold-and-copper operations in Benguet.
“Let us thank Philex Mining Corp. for their SDMP, which funded the rehabilitation of this school’s science building,” Joel Bauzon, the barangay chairman, said during the formal turn-over ceremonies held Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the school. “We prioritize the development of our school because every resident of this barangay will benefit from it. Education will help our children become successful professionals and have a better life.”
The P1.2-million project was funded by Philex Mining through its SDMP, or Social Development and Management Program, and involved the total rehabilitation of the school’s old science building after this was destroyed by Typhoon Lando (international codename: Koppu), in October 2015.
The architect Mherdad Jamal Agustin, who designed the science building and who works as coordinator for public infrastructure at the Community Relations Dept., of Philex Mining’s Padcal mine, in this province, said the one-story building measures 115.2 square meters and was completed on Nov. 7 after a three-month construction.
In a statement last week, Philex Mining said it was set to turn over by the end of the year almost P14 million worth of infrastructure projects, including this science building. The projects range from concrete road and retaining wall to drainage canal and grouted riprap with parapet wall to health center and potable water system—to Itogon. Covering the company’s social-program accomplishments for the second and third quarters, the 33 projects were implemented in the town’s host barangay of Ampucao and the neighboring barangay of Dalupirip.
Philex Mining turned over last August five infrastructure projects worth over P6 million to Brgy. Ampucao.
“As we have repeatedly emphasized, we practice responsible mining in a conscientious way—meaning, it’s not enough for us to just fulfill our duties to our host and neighboring communities, we also ensure that our projects on health, education, livelihood, public infrastructure, and environmental protection benefit not only today’s beneficiaries but also their future generations,” Eulalio Austin, Jr., president and CEO of Philex Mining, said in an interview at the mine camp.
Stressing the company’s wider reach for its community-development program, Eduardo Aratas, manager of Padcal’s Legal Division, said at the ceremonies: “Philex Mining helps in building schools and enhancing their facilities for the progress of learning not only here in Dalupirip, but also in other areas where the company operates.” He added, “We believe that education is a great tool in preparing a child to have a better life and be an instrument to help his family and community.”
Rev. Fr. Paul Asmin, parish priest of Brgy. Dalupirip, who blessed the newly refurbished building during formal ceremonies, expressed hopes that other companies, especially those belonging to the extractive sector, would follow Philex Mining’s example. “We congratulate and recognize the efforts of the company for extending its social programs for the development of the school and the whole community,” he stressed. “We hope that all companies will do the same.”
Speaking on behalf of the LFNHS, Cristina Ayangdan, teacher-in-charge at the Laurencio Fianza National Memorial School-Main, in Sitio Dalupirip-Proper, Brgy. Dalupirip, said, “[W]e are grateful to Philex Mining for rehabilitating our school building. Rest assured that we will maintain, take care, and maximize the use of it. Our students are inspired and motivated to learn in this well-constructed science building.”
At least P110 million was allotted by Philex Mining for its various social-development projects for 2017, bringing to more than P730 million the total budget that had been set aside for the said projects since 2003. These covered SDMP, IEC (Information, Education and Communications) campaign, and DMTG, or Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences.