Philex Special Permit Expires

Philex Mining Corporation’s open pit operations expansion in Barangay Camp 3 in Tuba, Benguet may be halted as its Special Mines Permit expires this week.

BY ACE ALEGRE
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 48, January 13-19, 2008

Philex Mining Corporation’s open pit operations expansion in Barangay Camp 3 in Tuba, Benguet may be halted as its Special Mines Permit expires this week.

A Special Mines Permit issued early last year by Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) Director Horacio Ramos allowed the mining firm to operate its open pit mine while nailing down its negotiations with affected indigenous peoples’ (IP) communities in Tuba and Itogon towns.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Cordillera is firm in its stance that Philex must stop operating its open pit when its permit expires.

MGB-Cordillera chief Engr. Neoman dela Cruz though told the press the mining firm is working for the “free and prior informed consent” (FPIC) as mandated by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

As late as December last year, Philex was not able to get the nod of Benguet indigenous peoples for an FPIC on its application for a production sharing agreement (APSA) 102.

During a series of rough-sailing dialogs last year, affected IP villagers remained firm in their opposition to the open pit mining expansion.

Rufu Gayaso, a spokesperson for the affected IP villages said they still have to reconvene to discuss their present stance on the expiration of Philex’s permit but by all indications, Philex will not get any FPIC before its permit expire.

Villagers have been complaining of Philex’s non-respect of the IP villagers’ rights over their lands. Accordingly, the mining company reportedly failed to provide adequate water supply as promised after the mine operations had depleted their traditional water sources.

The mining firm, one of the two mines still operating in the Cordillera region, according to Gayaso, has also failed to pay assessed damage claims of the affected villagers.

Gayaso said that that they want to preserve the existing community that has also already accommodated some who were displaced by other mine operations in other Benguet towns.

“We would like to preserve what is left of our community for our children,” he said.

Camp 3 water supply was allegedly depleted during Philex’s mining operations. Underground mining displaced our water table, Gayaso said, adding that most of the water drawn from their traditional sources is used in the company’s mill and in the processing of ore.

Philex has insisted that the company has compensated 35 claimants. They insist that the company would only pay legitimate claims established through their investigations.

Philex claims that its total mining claim covers 14,000 hectares but is currently mining 98 hectares only.
This is accordingly the same area covered by its controversial Application for Production Sharing (APSA 102).

This mining claim was formerly within a forest reserve but was excluded through Presidential Proclamation 304 signed by then President Ramon Magsaysay.

Dela Cruz however said the final say on whether or not the mining company may continue its operations, if Philex does not get an FPIC, rests with DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, even as the Benguet provincial board supports its Camp 3 constituents’ opposition to the mine operations. Northern Dispatch / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)

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