Now that the Environmental Certificate for the Tampakan Open-Pit mine is issued by the DENR the issue once again of government officials being bribed into complicity is upfront in the media. The more contentious issue being raised by anti-mining advocates is company money being used to grease the wheels of bureaucracy. As part of XSTRATA-SMI’s (Sagittarius Mining Incorporated) Corporate Social Responsibility, the company gives millions of pesos in various projects in its affected communities. This not only includes subsiding the AFP’s local CAFGU recruitment with its own funds – to arrest the damage of banditry and rebels which incidentally is being used to bolster their base station’s security by the way – but also partnering with Local Government Units in Kiblawan, Tampakan and Colombio. These funds are used in complementing their preexisting programs. This translates into housing projects both for the relocated communities and host governments, paid tree plantings and countless livelihood projects yet to be implemented in collaboration with the far-flung communities in Mindanao.
While the cynical view of the company’s spending spree would be “bribery”, a more positive and completely legal perspective of the matter would be “harmonious society” building. Which makes sense for a project breeding populist discontent. Or as a Jesuit priest would call it, the proverbial elephant in the proverbial crystal shop.
DISCLAIMER: The author is the son of Mayor Diamante and whose sibling is currently working as liason officer to SMI and the LGU of Kiblawan