Representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Filminera Resources Corporation (Filminera), Phil. Gold Processing and Refining Corp. (PGPRC) and the local government unit (LGU) of Aroroy are implementing an Integrated Area Development Plan (IADP) for the Municipality of Aroroy in Masbate province.
The IADP is the first accord under DENR DAO 2017-02, Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez issued for the implementation of a six-year Sustainable Integrated Area Development (SIAD) Action Plan by government, civil society and the private sector.
Lopez has defined SIAD as “an approach, a strategy and a guiding philosophy that weaves environmental considerations with social justice and human development” and is aimed at applying area-based interventions and concepts on natural resources development programs.
“This is what the Secretary wants. She wants to show that the DENR can work with the mining companies for the sake of the environment,” DENR Usec. Philip Camara said following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement at the DENR central office on Wednesday.
The DENR recognizes that Filminera and PGPRC are bound by law to use the funds of the Social Development Management Programs (SDMP) in the eight barangays identified as part of their impact area. Under the MOA, the DENR will implement programs to include all other Aroroy barangays not within minesite’s impact area.
The IADP will be aligned with all relevant DENR programs like the National Greening Program, Biodiversity Program, Biochar Program for Agricultural and other Wastes, Coastal Research and Management, Clean Water and Air Programs, and Solid Waste Management Program.
Aside from third party experts, the parties will coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Science and Technology and experts from universities, and agencies of the DENR, such as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Environmental Management Bureau.
The Aroroy LGU sees this project as a vehicle to develop the area into a model municipality that hosts a minesite while operating in a green conomy.
From its fourth class status, Aroroy became a first class municipality because of its considerable share in the Internal Revenue Allotment due to the operations of Filminera and PGPRC.
“We are looking forward to this project since this is for the development of Aroroy. We would like to see harmonious relationships forged through this agreement,” Aroroy Mayor Arturo Virtucio said.
“This is for the people of Aroroy. It will be a vehicle to empower them while upholding responsible mining,” Aroroy Vice Mayor Eric Castillo said.
The Aroroy MOA brings together the LGU, DENR, FRC and PGPRC as they develop an IADP for Aroroy where a multi-sectoral group will be consulted to ensure the participation of all stakeholders and other local government units.
The process will include: gathering baseline data on the socio-economic cost of industries within Aroroy, conducting a multi-sectoral consultative workshop to plan the development of the municipality, formulating an investment program to identify priority projects and match these with potential investors, creating social enterprises that will sustain the economy of the municipality during mining and milling operations, and post mining or closure plans, showcasing successful projects in the municipality as a model for other host mining communities, and incorporating development models and best practices from other mining communities.
“The IADP enables us to be more aligned with the DENR’s objectives and enhance our SDMP to uplift the lives of a broader number of stakeholders in the area where we operate. We reiterate our commitment to make a positive difference to our stakeholders,” said Filminera resident manager Sulpicio Bernardo.
The SDMP is a requirement of the Mining Act of 1995, which obligates mining companies to implement development programs in their host and neighboring communities. Funding for this is comprised of 1.5 percent of their total annual operating cost.
Meanwhile PGPRC Chairman Johan Raadsma said, “We all have the same objective; to make life better for the constituents of the Aroroy Municipality and as the government’s partner in development, we view the IADP as a manifestation of our sincere intention to be of help where needed in any way we can.”
“We also recognize that we can do better with the cooperation of the LGU and the DENR and other government line agencies so we can make good on all our social development commitments and under a common vision,” Raadsma added.
Filminera and PGPRC operate the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) in Aroroy. MGP is the largest single investment in the Province of Masbate and the largest producing gold mine in the Philippines. PGPRC is the holder of a mineral processing permit and owns and operates the processing plant in the Masbate Gold Project. Filminera holds an Environmental Compliance Certificate, the mining tenements, surface rights and the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA).