None of the country’s 10 poorest provinces hosts a mine, according to data from the government statistics office.
Based on the 2015 first semester poverty incidence report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the 10 poorest provinces were identified as Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Sarangani, Bukidnon, Siquijor, Northern Samar, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
These provinces that do not host a mine yet recorded the highest poverty incidence rate of 70.2 percent for Lanao del Sur, 61.8 percent for Sulu and 54.5 percent for Saranggani, said Chito Gozar, OceanaGold’s senior vice president for communications and external affairs, citing the PSA data.
The PSA report thus belied Environment Secretary Regina Lopez’s claim “the poorest areas in the Philippines are mining areas.”
“Mining companies do not cause suffering in areas where they operate. The companies have been a longtime partner of the government in delivering social services, ” Gozar said.
On the other hand, the mining provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet in the Cordillera Administrative Region posted a low poverty incidence of 15.8 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. The two provinces ranked 64th and 79th among the 85 provinces included on the list of poverty incidence among families released by PSA.
“Studies do not support the contention that mining increases poverty incidence in the area where it operates. On the contrary, mining spikes the household income in mine sites,” Gozar said.
Barangay Didipio in Nueva Vizcaya is host to OceanaGold’s Didipio Mines.
Results of the 2015 socioeconomic assessment conducted by UPLB Foundation covering the Didipio Mines indicate a significant increase in the mean household income in the host and neighboring communities.
Didipio registered a mean household income of P19,380 which is above the national average income of P17,166 and the national poverty threshold of P18,935.
Previously, farming was its primary source of income. Didipio residents shifted to being wage earners (83 percent).