Despite spill, Philex wins an award
BAGUIO CITY—Despite the Aug. 1 spill at its waste facility that polluted a major river traversing Benguet and Pangasinan, Philex Mining Corp. was honored with the best mining forest award in this year’s annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference here.
The company did not win the mines safety award as it had in the past, having been automatically disqualified because of the accident, said Rodolfo Saguid, Philex department manager for environment quality monitoring and enhancement at the company’s Padcal mine in Itogon, Benguet, where the spill took place.
“We want to show that mining is not only all about extraction but is also for environmental protection. We do programs on reforestation and water and air quality monitoring. While it is true that something happened, we are doing all we can to mitigate it,” Saguid said.
Since 1987, the company has been planting pine trees in more than 2,000 hectares of its Padcal mine property, which straddles the towns of Tuba and Itogon, Saguid said. Philex has planted eight million saplings.
But Vergel Aniceto, a member of party-list group Katribu and spokesperson of the Benguet Mining Alert Action Network (BMAAN), did not find Philex deserving of the award.
“We have to clarify that we are not against mining but we are against destructive mining,” said Aniceto. “In the Philippines, the extraction of minerals has always been destructive to the environment.”
Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano, the conference’s keynote speaker, reminded the industry that it should not let public opinion perceive it to be “the bad guy.”
“If you allow yourself to be cast as the bad guy, you’ve lost already,” Cayetano told the country’s top mining executives on Thursday. “Imagine the power and muscle of the mineral resources in the Philippines. But why is [the industry that harnesses these resources] being bullied? Because you are focused on your work in the community … Many things that the government wants you to do—like corporate social responsibility—you are already doing. The problem is it’s not in the news.”
In his speech, Cayetano said the mining industry needed to properly express to the people that it balances the extraction of minerals with activities that help sustain the environment.
“It’s OK to be antimining if it is inherently wrong. [But] prove it to me. If you are antimining, stop using products brought about by mining such as computers and cellular phones,” he said.
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