Use of mining SocDev funds for COVID vaccines allowed

By Jaime S. Cabag

ILOILO CITY,  Feb. 9 (PIA) – As the Philippine government prepares to implement its vaccination plan to fight the coronavirus, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has authorized mining contractors and permit holders to realign this year’s funds allocated for social development, safety and health programs to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for their host communities and workforce.

As mandated by the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, mining contractors and permit holders allocate funds for the implementation of a Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) and Safety and Health Program (SHP).

MGB Region VI here said in a press report that their office has issued a memorandum on January 29, 2021 directing mining contractors and permit holders to realign the 2021 SDMP funds intended for the development of host and neighboring communities to purchase the COVID-19 vaccines for the host barangays and municipalities. 

The agency also authorizes the purchase of vaccines for company employees and workers from the funds allocated by mining companies for the health and control services under their SHP.

“The implementation of this memorandum shall be included in the quarterly accomplishment reports to be submitted by mining companies subject to the monitoring of the MGB Regional Office concerned,” the MGB said.

MGB further states “the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccines will be carried out in accordance with the guidelines and procedures of the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force on COVID-19 of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.”

Meanwhile, MGB said their regional offices are coordinating with mining contractors and permit holders in their areas to conduct a study that aims to assess how a mining project has contributed to the improvement of the quality of life of mining host and neighboring communities over the years.

The study will focus on the aspects of health, education, livelihood/household income, and infrastructure.  MGB expects the study to be conducted this year.

The study will be undertaken using funds intended for the IEC component of the SDMP. (DENR/MGB 6/PIA6)