400 Children of Miners Barred from SchoolPublished by MAC on 2004-06-15
The following story highlights the issues around how large mining companies in the Philippines are providing infrastructure both to save costs (by ensuring workers can be located close to the mine) and as a public relations exercise. Yet despite only providing the capital costs, rather than ongoing expenses, they can still exert serious influence over the provision of services. At the time of posting the children have recently been allowed to enter school as a result of joint intervention from the Department of Education and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
400 Children of Miners Barred from School
Nearly 400 school children failed to enroll in Tuba, Benguet when the two schools in the area funded by a mining corporation refused to admit children of former employees.
By Aldwin Quitasol, Northern Dispatch, posted by Bulatlat.com
15th June 2004
Baguio City - Philex Mining Corporation (PMC) in Padcal, Tuba, Benguet in northern Philippines has barred children of ex-employees from enrolling both in the elementary and secondary schools within the mine camp.
Nearly 400 pupils were denied enrollment as the Philex Mines Elementary School (PMES) and Saint Louis High School-Philex (SLHS-Philex) complied with the "Enrollment Advisory" issued by the General Services Department of PMC.
The advisory calls on both PMES and SLHS-Philex for the new schoolyear to accept only children who are qualified in accordance with the guidelines set by the PMC. Among others, the guidelines provide that allowed to enroll are direct dependents of active employees based on PMC's records; children of claimants or indigenous residents of host communities; children of term residents who are currently employed with the National Allied Mine Workers Union-Local 101 (NAMAWU-L 101), and of those providing basic services such as PUJ drivers/operators, and vendors/entrepreneurs who are staying in private cottages under a valid and updated lease contract with the company.
Those not accommodated by the PMES and SLHS-Philex are dependents of retired or separated employees, employees with pending court cases involving dismissal, and dependents of contractors, contractual and casual employees including agency guards.
One of the parents of children who were denied admission lambasted the PMC action as unreasonable, inhumane and discriminatory.
"Nabayag a pinagserbian ni lakay ko ti Philex, adu pay ti sakripisyo na kalpasan na, binale-wala lang ti kompanya, kas-ano ngayen ti masakbayan ti annak min, graduating pay diay maysa nga ubing ko" (I have long served the company and have sacrificed a lot but this has meant nothing to the company.What is now my children's future, one of them is even graduating this year?) cried the parent.
The parents have petitioned Tuba Municipal Mayor Jose Baluda asking him to intercede and have the PMC advisory recalled.
The letter was received by the mayor as early as June 6 but no action has been done at presstime.
The parents even approached the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Department of Education (DepEd), the governor's office and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) of Tuba - but all to no avail.
A public consultation was also held last June 9 at the provincial capitol of Benguet in an attempt to address the issue. In front of the provincial officials, parents and their supporters were told by representatives of PMC: the decision is final.
Another parent, who asked not to be identified, lambasted the PMES and SLHS-Philex as company-maneuvered schools. "Apay anya gamin sakiten ti nakem da ta saan da nga awaten ti annak mi ket agbayad kami met" (They have no heart by refusing to accept my children yet we're even paying), he said. Both the PMES and SLHS-Philex are funded by the PMC.