ITOGON, Benguet: The municipal government has urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to allow the use of part of the 1.2 billion peso fine paid by Philex Mining Corp. to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) for the damage caused by an accidental leak from its tailings pond in August 2012 for the compensation of the indigenous peoples (PA), living downstream of the mining operations of the company, because they also suffered of the accident.
Mayor Victorio Palangdan said he intended to appeal to the office of the president an earlier decision by the DENR to deny its request to use part of the fine paid on purpose for the benefit of IPs living in downstream of the mining camp.
He said it was unfortunate that the ministry, in its response to its previous request, stipulated that the penalty paid by the mining company to the PAB will be used for the council’s research. Thus, the proposed use of part of the fund for the benefit of IPs cannot be granted.
Palangdan argued that this is only part of the fund the local government is asking for, saying it is “disheartening” to be informed that such a fund will be used for PAB research.
Philex is one of the country’s main gold and copper producers.
Palangdan had made the same request to the secretary of the DENR, Roy Cimatu.
The mayor described the refusal as a “serious setback” for the application of the relevant provisions of Republic Law 8371 or the “Law on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” to advance IP interests in their ancestral domain.
However, he expressed confidence that President Rodrigo Duterte will see the wisdom of his request and overturn the Department of Environment’s earlier decision on the matter as what the municipal government is fighting for is the best interests of the people. PA living in their field.