THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has rolled out an Integrated Area Development Plan (IADP) for Aroroy, a gold-rich town in Masbate Province.
The DENR, Filiminera Resources Corp. (Filiminera), Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp. (PGPRC) and the local government unit (LGU) of Aroroy signed an agreement for the implementation of the IADP for the town.
The IADP, the first accord under DENR Department Administrative Order 2017-02 signed by Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez, calls for the formulation and implementation of a six-year Sustainable Integrated Area Development (SIAD) Action Plan by the government, civil society and the private sector.
The SIAD is “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.
DENR Undersecretary Philip Camara, one of the signatories to the MOA, said Lopez, an environmental advocate, wants to show “the DENR can work with the mining companies for the sake of the environment.”
The DENR recognizes Filminera and PGPRC are bound by law to use the SDMP funds in the eight barangays identified as part of their impact area.
The MOA will bring in the DENR to implement programs that will include all other barangays of Aroroy not within the impact area of the mine site.
The IADP will be aligned with all relevant DENR programs, like the National Greening Program (NGP), 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 proponents will coordinate and collaborate with other agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and experts from universities, and agencies of the DENR, such as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
The LGU of Aroroy is confident of the project’s output.
“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 in a statement.
Both the mayor and the vice mayor of Aroroy said they see this project as a vehicle to develop Aroroy into a model municipality that hosts a mine site, while operating in a green economy.
Aroroy became a first-class municipality from fourth-class status because of its considerable share in the internal revenue allotment because of the operations of Filminera and PGPRC.
“This is for the people of Aroroy. It will be a vehicle where we can empower them while upholding responsible mining,” Aroroy Vice Mayor Eric Castillo said.
The Aroroy MOA brings together the LGU, DENR, FRC and PGPRC into a partnership to develop and run an IADP, where a multisectoral group will be consulted to ensure the participation of all stakeholders and other LGUs.
The process will include gathering baseline data on the socioeconomic cost of industries within Aroroy; conducting a multisectoral consultative workshop to plan the development of the municipality; formulating an investment priority 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 postmining 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.