Towards a sustainable symbiosis


TVIRD submits 2nd 5-year Social Development and Management Program for host communities

As engineers of a mining firm in the mountains of Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte build a copper-zinc flotation plant, a dam, and roads for the second phase of the company’s operations here, the firm’s community affairs personnel were busy putting together a socio-economic development plan for – and with – residents of villages that will be affected by the mining operations. After all, the continued success of any business depends to a large extent on how well it nurtures a symbiotic relationship with its host communities.

Finally, after five months of comprehensive community consultations and a series of intensive information-education-communication (IEC) sessions in some of the remotest barangays of Mindanao, TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD) has completed the Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) for the primary and secondary communities that will be affected by its Sulphide Project. The SDMP document, which represents the second five-year cycle of the program in Canatuan, formalizes TVIRD’s continuing commitment to the sustainable development of the Subanon ancestral domain and its neighboring barangays.

Under its new SDMP, TVIRD will continue conducting dental and medical missions (top and middle photos), as well as training seminars on traditional medicine (bottom photo) in Canatuan and neighboring communities.

“We appreciate the fact that the company went to great lengths to get our views and inputs during the formulation of the SDMP,” Bonifacio Patoh, president of the Siocon Subanon Association, Inc. (SSAI) and chairman of Tabayo, Canatuan’s host barangay. Patoh was among those that attended the Consolidation and Validation (CV) conference TVIRD conducted for the holders of the Canatuan Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) who represent the primary stakeholders in the SDMP. “Because we were made part of the consultation process, everything about the program is clear to us.”

“We now know what to expect from TVIRD when the Sulphide Project begins,” Moarip Salvador, chairman of the predominantly Muslim Barangay Sta. Maria, opined during the separate CV for secondary stakeholders. “We are satisfied with the SDMP formulation process and are glad that our suggestions on community projects were included in the program. The company has our support.”

According to Feliece Yeban, TVIRD vice president for Social Commitments, the company’s SDMP framework is based on three key principles: Convergence, Transparency, and Participation. “Under Convergence, our SDMP took into consideration the barangay development and investment plans,” she said. “This is to ensure synergy with government development efforts. From the review of these documents, we were able to identify four Quadrants or focus areas of social development, namely: Health and Sanitation, Livelihood, Responsive Education, and Infrastructural Support.

Responsive Education will remain a pillar in TVIRD’s Quadrants of Development. This initiative includes, among others, the continued operation of a daycare center (top photo showing young pupils in their first moving up exercises), the provision of learning facilities like schools and teaching staff (middle photo), and support for the transport of schoolchildren to and from school (bottom photo).

“Our idea of Convergence includes making the SDMP as a bridge to facilitate the community’s access to services and resources of the government, NGOs, academic institutions, and the church,” Yeban explained. “For instance, Jose Rizal Memorial College Siocon Annex will play a pivotal role as TVIRD’s partner in delivering the company’s scholarship program under the SDMP. The role of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Department of Education, among others, will be highlighted in delivering education and capacity building on agriculture and technical skills to beneficiary communities. The microfinance program, which is part of the Livelihood Quadrant, meanwhile will make use of the expertise and experience of ongoing microfinance programs managed by people’s organizations, the church, and NGOs.”

Transparency, Yeban pointed out, was achieved during the consultation process
to formulate the SDMP Please see related story
“The face-to-face encounters between TVIRD, barangay leaders, tribal
leaders, and their constituents have, in effect, helped evolve the ‘social
contract’ between TVIRD and the communities through the SDMP. Transparency
mechanisms are also put in place through our IEC program, which includes the setting up of bulletin boards as a tool for getting feedback from the community, as well as for reporting SDMP updates and discussing issues.”

Following the Participation principle, Yeban said Multi-party Implementation and Monitoring Teams (MIMTs) were formed to ensure that the SDMP programs will be implemented and monitored with adequate participation of stakeholders. It will also guarantee that the responsibility for implementation and monitoring is shared among the members who represent various sectors of the CADT or impact barangays.

TVIRD will encourage the pursuit of agricultural technology and cottage industry under the SDMP Livelihood component. Top photo shows Subanon Fernandez Anda and daughters with their own successful rice terraces plot in the background, the first in Mindanao. At bottom photo, Subanon women learn visual art crafts using indigenous materials, which can be an additional source of livelihood for the ancestral domain owners.

The microfinance component of the SDMP’s Livelihood Quadrant was well-received by both the primary and secondary stakeholders.

“This is a most welcome development,” Ely Comisas, a member of the Subanon Council of Elders, said. “We thank the company for including microfinancing in the new SDMP.”

“Our community is poor and capital is difficult to come by,” averred Pinsiaw Salam, chairman of another Muslim barangay, Matiag. “The microfinance scheme will provide us opportunities to get ourselves out of the rut of poverty. We now have regular access to cash we can borrow for our livelihood initiatives.”

Community leaders also greeted with enthusiasm the fact that those who wish to avail themselves of microfinancing will be required to complete a series of capacity-building training sessions. “We’ve been wanting of opportunities to improve our know-how on handling our finances,” said Lope Sablay, chairman of Barangay Siay. “Microfinancing will give us the chance to get the necessary training, to manage the money we will borrow, and to access social services. This component will also supplement and complement government’s thrust of people empowerment.”

Feliece Yeban, TVIRD vice president for Social Commitments (far right) shares a light moment with community leaders during the Validation conference with the Sulphide Project’s secondary impact barangays where the company presented its new SDMP.

Following the provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, TVIRD allots a minimum of 1% of the direct mining and milling costs annually – over and above the royalty equivalent to 1% Net Smelter Revenue that Subanons have been receiving from the Company. Of this amount, 90% is appropriated to implement the SDMP, and the remaining 10% for the development of mining technology and geosciences, as the well as the corresponding manpower training and development.

TVIRD’s Sulphide Project is expected to commence within the fourth quarter of 2008, with a projected mine life of 5 ?