The management of Philex Gold Mining Corp. vehemently denied claims that its exploration activities in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, have produced toxic wastes, that led to damage of the environment.
Rex Cagawan, Philex mining officer-in-charge in Sipalay, also said yesterday that they are not operating yet, and are still in the exploration stages.
The New People’s Army-South West Front has claimed responsibility for the raid and destruction of properties of the Philex Mining Corp. in Brgy. Nabulao, Sipalay City.
In a statement it issued, Andrea Guerrero, spokesperson of the Armando Sumayang Command, accused Philex of dumping toxic wastes in Mantuboy Creek, Bacuyangan and Sipalay River, which, she claimed, resulted in fishkill in the shorelines of Sipalay, and loss of water source for irrigation to peasants and farmers.
Cagawan admitted that exploration of Philex activities has been affected by the recent raid and destruction of their properties. In 2008, rebels also destroyed properties of the mining firm, allegedly for refusal to pay revolutionary taxes.
The NPA burned a personnel carrier and pick-up vehicle, two workers’ barracks, a container van containing spare parts of drilling equipment, and disarmed the mining firm guards of their firearms.
Cagawan said the damage was estimated at P3 million.
Contrary to claims, he said the firm is committed to preserve the environment in areas where there are ongoing exploration activities, citing compliance with requirements of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Despite the rebel attack, Cagawan said they will not leave the area, adding that he is optimistic that all the problems they are confronting now will soon be solved.
Philex reported to have planted 33,000 various species of tree seedlings, maintains 23 hectares of tree plantations, and continues to protect the additional 10 hectares of the Assisted Natural Regeneration Project accredited by the Forest Management Bureau and Mines Geosciences Bureau.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. has ordered the Philippine Army and National Police to secure all mining firms in Negros Occidental, after the recent raid and destruction of Philex Mining Corp. properties in Sipalay City.
Guerrero said the Communist Party of the Philippines is bent on dismantling foreign mining corporations in Negros, to be implemented by the NPA.
The Sipalay police is now preparing the filing of arson and robbery charges against the communist rebels responsible for the destruction of Philex mine properties. * GPB