Mining firms pool funds to help host communities
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - April 29, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — At least P21 million funds from various mining companies in Central Visayas has been pooled to help their host communities cushion the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Environmental Management Bureau-7 announced that the amount was realigned from the Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) funds of all mining companies operating in the region.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued on April 1, 2020 the guidelines for the realignment of unspent SDMP funds last year and authorized all its regional offices to approve SDMP fund realignments for programs, projects, and activities that can help combat the socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 in the affected communities.

It likewise authorized the realignment of Community Development Program (CDP) following the same guidelines.

In response, Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC) in Toledo City realigned a total of P16M of SDMP funds. The money was used to buy food packs that were distributed to the households within its host community and neighboring areas.

“A lot of changes have already occurred. As we move forward, there will be changes in the manner we do things. But there is one thing constant, the imperative of unity. This is the time to be one. This cannot be won by a single individual,” CCC President and CEO Roy Deveratura said in a statement.

Solid Earth Development Corporation (SEDC) in San Fernando, Cebu also allotted more than P400,000 from its SDMP fund to provide food packs to various households and frontliners in 13 barangays of the town and its neighboring town of Pinamungajan.

The company also provided personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectants, transportation and accommodation to its skeletal working force.

Bohol Limestone Corporation has also set aside P1 million to provide food packs to more than 6,000 households in Garcia-Hernandez town.

According to MGB-7 Director Loreto Alburo, the unused SDMP funds from last year must be utilized first before the utilization of the 2020 funds.

“Subject to the approval of the MGB regional director, the 2020 Annual SDMP budget can be realigned with the utilization of 12 to 17 percent every week,” Alburo said.

Part of SDMP, he said, are programs for the development of the companies’ host and neighboring communities which are now suffering socioeconomic effects because of COVID-19.

"I’m thankful for the initiatives and efforts of the mining companies in helping the communities and protecting their employees through preventive measures to survive this crisis,” Alburo added.

For proper accounting, the companies must include all necessary documents on the utilization of realigned SDMP funds such as official receipts and proof of purchase of food and medical supplies in the quarterly accomplishment report to be submitted by the mining contractors.--  FPL (FREEMAN)

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