None of the 10 poorest provinces in the country hosts a mine, according to a study conducted by a government statistics office.
The survey result dismissed the claim of Environment Secretary-designate Regina Lopez that “the poorest areas in the Philippines are mining areas.”
Data from the Philippines Statistics Authority in 2015 First Semester Poverty Statistics lists among the poorest provinces as Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Sarangani, Bukidnon, Siquijor, Northern Samar, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
“The mining companies do not cause suffering in areas where they operate, the companies have been a long-time partner of the government in delivering social services,” said Chito Gozar, OceanaGold’s senior vice president for communications and external affairs.
The 10 provinces do not host a mine yet achieved the highest poverty incidence rate with 70.2 percent for Lanao del Sur, 61.8 percent in Sulu and 54.5 percent in Saranggani, added Gozar, citing the PSA report.
Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet in the Cordillera Administrative Region, meanwhile, posted low poverty incidence of 15.8 percent and 6.5 percent respectively. The two provinces ranked 64th and 79th among the 85 provinces included on the lists of Poverty Incidence among Families released by PSA.
“Studies do not support the contention that mining increases poverty incidence in the area where it operates. On the contrary mining spikes the household income in mine sites. Barangay Didipio in Nueva Vizcaya, host community of OceanaGold’s Didipio Mines, has interesting numbers on income level, employment sources and crops production”, said Gozar.
Results of the 2015 socio-economic assessment conducted by the UPLB Foundation covering the Didipio Mines’ host and neighboring communities indicate a significant increase in the mean household income in most of the communities covered by the Social Development Management Program, with Didipio having a mean household income of P19,380, which is above the Philippines national average income (P17,166.00) and the national poverty threshold (P18,935.00)
A major change in the economy of Didipio took place with the entry of OceanaGold into the barangay to mine. Previously an agricultural settlement, farming was the primary source of household income.
About 83 percent of Didipio residents shifted from farming to salary earners, with a few households, or 12 percent, sticking to farming. The shift may be attributed to the employment opportunities created by OceanaGold and other private firms operating in affiliation with the mining operations for better income and security of tenure, said Gozar.
Gozar also cited that OceanaGold assisted the establishment of DiCorp, a community corporation owned and managed by residents of Barangay Didipio, which has generated approximately P848 million from 2011-2016 and has already distributed P24 million in dividends to its shareholders as of 2016.
From the start of its commercial operations in 2013 until the end of second quarter of 2016, OceanaGold paid P3.28 billion intaxes, fees and charges.