The Lepanto Mining community, Mankayan residents, and various stakeholders submitted a Manifesto of Support for Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company to Lepanto’s Board of Directors during the Annual Stockholders’ Meeting of the company on April 17, 2017 held at The Peninsula Manila.
The Manifesto, initiated by the Lepanto Women’s Association with the support of 60 sectoral organizations in Mankayan, was signed April 3 to 30 amidst the closure/suspension orders of then DENR Secretary-designate Gina Lopez against 28 mining firms including Lepanto.
The Manifesto carried over 5,900 signatures from leaders and members of various community, religious, youth, academic and indigenous (IP) organizations inside and outside of Lepanto; LGUs from Mankayan in Benguet, and Cervantes and Quirino in Ilocos Sur; Lepanto employees and their dependents, scholars, retirees, and other stakeholders.
The Manifesto details the benefits that Lepanto, as a responsible miner for the last 80 years, has brought to the community. Raquel Batchi, a member of the Lepanto Women’s Association and an IP from Mankayan, read the contents of the Manifesto before presenting it formally to the Board of Directors. She even recalled how Lepanto helped her ailing mother avail of laparoscopic cholecystectomy for free at the Lepanto Hospital.
“Lepanto is our partner in economic development, environmental stewardship and community building. We are grateful to Lepanto and we need Lepanto not only because it provides a source of livelihood to our community and pays taxes to our LGUs. Lepanto built for us roads, schools, churches, recreation and sports facilities, a hospital, a market place, a theatre and a library, among other facilities,” Batchi read.
The Manifesto highlighted the many contributions of Lepanto to the community.
“Mankayan has graduated into a first class municipality largely through the economic contributions of Lepanto. Lepanto directly supports 2,000 households or roughly 10,000 people. Lepanto continues to support education and through this commitment, 11,000 students have graduated from the Lepanto Elementary School, Marivic Elementary School and Lepanto National High School. Through the educational assistance programs of the Company, 300-400 students from the different barangays of Mankayan, Benguet, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur and Quirino, Ilocos Sur are sent to college every year. The educational assistance programs of Lepanto graduate about 100 students a year.
“The Lepanto Hospital treats an average of 10,000 patients annually. It provides medical services not only to Lepanto employees and dependents but also to the residents of Mankayan and neighboring towns. Each of the biennial surgical-dental-medical missions organized by Lepanto has benefited 4,000 to 4,000 patients.”
The Manifesto also stressed how Lepanto cares for the environment. “The Lepanto community is heavily forested as Lepanto has planted over 6,500,000 trees in the area since the 1960’s. Even the tailings dam is inhabited by ducks and other avian species. The old/decommissioned tailings dam is now a grazing ground for cattle and horses.
“We believe that Lepanto is committed to further improving the lives of its employees and the residents of Lepanto community. Lepanto cares about our livelihood, our health, our environment and safety, and our socio-economic development and sustainability during and beyond the life of the Lepanto mines.
“The continued operation of Lepanto makes us feel secure about our future and the future of our children, as well as the welfare of our entire community. We therefore manifest our full support for the continued operation of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company,” the Manifesto concluded.
LCMC Chairman and CEO Felipe U. Yap was at a loss for words as he expressed his deepest gratitude to the community representatives. “We are beyond grateful for your unwavering support and we assure you of our continued operation to further better our service to the community while upholding our commitment to the environment,” remarked Yap.
A stockholder, evidently touched by the Manifesto, moved that copies of the same be submitted to the Office of the President and the DENR. Since then, hundreds of signatures from stakeholders were further gathered. Lepanto submitted copies of the Manifesto to the Office of the President and the DENR on May 5, 2017. PR / ABN
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