The Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office No. XIII in coordination with the Community Relations, Education and Development Officers, Inc. (CREDO Caraga, Inc.) conducted the Cross-Sectoral Forum on Social Development and Management Program on January 12, 2017 at the Gateway Hotel in Surigao City.

With the theme “SDMP for Integrated Sustainable Development,” the forum was attended by various stakeholders from mining companies, local government units, national line agencies, non-government organizations and the media.

The forum commenced with an opening ceremony wherein the Officer-in-Charge of the MGB RXIII Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division, Engr. Francis Glenn N. Suante, acknowledged and welcomed the participants with inspiring words.

The MGB RXIII Regional Director, Engr. Roger A. De Dios, delivered the opening message and gave an overview of the Social Development and Management Program /Community Development Plan Policy Direction.  Dir. De Dios expressed that he will continue his mission to help Caraga Region propel to greater heights in terms of mining contributions to the communities.  With the positive change ushered in by the Duterte Administration, Dir. De Dios is optimistic that the SDMP will be properly utilized in the hope of addressing poverty alleviation in Caraga region and sustaining livelihood programs in mining communities.

Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño of the National Economic and Development Authority Regional Office No. XIII, gave a comprehensive presentation on the Economic Contributions of Social Development and Management Program in Caraga Region. Dir. Cariño thoroughly discussed Caraga Region’s Development Direction, Gross Regional Domestic Product, Social Development and Management Program Contributions and Observations in the Implementation of the Social Development and Management Program.  On the same note, the NEDA Caraga Regional Director stated several recommendations to improve the SDMP.

Ms. Ana Diosell Soliven-Bajao, MGB RXIII Economist II, presented the National Wealth Share from Mining to heighten the participants’ awareness of mining contributions. At first, Ms. Bajao defined terms such as national wealth, national wealth proceeds, gross output, royalty and excise tax in order for the participants to have a better grasp of the topic.  After stating the legal basis of the national wealth share from mining, Ms. Bajao presented the respective shares of the barangay, city/municipality and province in detail.

To lay emphasis on the legal aspect of the forum, Atty. Allen M. Gasulas, Attorney IV of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, gave a clear and straightforward discussion on the Utilization of the Local Development Fund (LDF) and the National Wealth Share. Initially, Atty. Gasulas stated the following purposes of Joint Memorandum Circular 2011-1: 1) to provide guidelines on the appropriation and utilization of no less than twenty percent (20%) of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for development projects; 2) to enhance transparency and accountability of local government units in undertaking development projects; and 3) to include projects in addressing and responding to natural and man-made disasters and calamities.

Atty. Gasulas mentioned the projects covered by the IRA.  She enumerated in full detail the priority social development, economic development and environmental management programs and projects for which the 20% of the IRA intended for development projects may be utilized. The Expenditure Items not covered was also tackled for the information of the participants.  Atty. Gasulas also engaged the participants in the review of the legal bases of all types of national wealth as enumerated in Republic Act 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) with regard to Shares in the Proceeds from the Development and Utilization of the National Wealth, Amount of Share of LGUs, Share of the Local Governments from government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), Allocation of Shares, Remittance of the Share of LGUs, and Development and Livelihood Projects.

An open forum followed after the morning presentations wherein some participants expressed their views, raised several issues and gave recommendations as well.  The resource speakers addressed the various matters that were raised by the participants.

During the break, video presentations on the Sustainable SDMP Livelihood Projects of Cagdianao Mining Corporation, SR Metals, Inc. and Taganito Mining Corporation were viewed by the participants.  The said livelihood projects were given their much deserved recognition during the 4th Community Relations Officers Conference at the 63rd Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference (ANMSEC) on November 15-18, 2016 in Baguio City.

In the afternoon, Dr. Rolando V. Cuaño, President of BMP Environment and Community Care, Inc., presented the Results of the Social Impact Assessment of Claver.  MGB RXIII commissioned the said study which assessed the social impacts of mineral projects in Claver, Surigao del Norte. In his presentation, Dr. Cuaño discussed the background and study scope, methodology, the mineral projects, social impacts, the SDMP, misconceptions and truths about the SDMP, and the socioeconomic context.

To enhance the participants’ understanding of SDMP/CDP, Ms. Glaiza T. Baliwag, Supervising Science Research Specialist from the MGB Central Office, expounded on the General Guidelines on Social Development and Management Program /Community Development Plan.  On the other hand, Mr. Elecito E. Escuyos, Supervising Science Research Specialist/SDMP Section Chief of MGB RXIII, presented the SDMP Manual of Operations for Caraga Region.

After the afternoon presentations, an open forum ensued wherein some participants stated their comments and sought clarification on some matters which were addressed by the resource speakers.

Toward the end of the forum, Ms. Genevieve P. Chua, President of CREDO Caraga, Inc., delivered the closing remarks. Ms. Chua thanked the distinguished resource speakers, participants, mining stakeholders, national line agencies and local government units for their active participation in the forum. She expressed the hope that they will all move on in the same direction in order to make the aspiration of authentic sustainable development a reality for Caraga Region.