CBNC, RTNMC “to bring smile” to children with cleft problems in Palawan

Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) and Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC), affiliates of Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC), sealed an agreement with the world’s biggest children’s medic charity to conduct free surgeries to treat indigent children and young adults disfigured and disabled by oral cleft in Palawan.

CBNC, RTNMC and NAC officials signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Operation Smile Philippines Foundation, Inc. (OSPFI) to address the substantial backlog of cleft cases given the inadequate surgical capacity of the province.

The MOA was signed by NAC President & CEO Gerard Brimo, Operation Smile Global Chief Operating Officer Wayne Zinn, NAC SVP for Marketing & RTN Foundation Inc. (RTNFI) Chairman Dennis Zamora, and Sumitomo Metal Mining Philippines (SMMP) Chairman Takanori Fujimura. It was witnessed by OSP Deputy Director of Development Ricardo Lepatan, Jr., NAC Chief Operating Officer Jose Anievas, Operation Smile program officer Tim Lu, OSPFI President & Executive Director Bobby Manzano, and SMMP VP for Communication Masaru Tani.

Under the agreement, CBNC and RTNMC through RTNFI will sponsor the surgeries of 150 indigent cleft children in Palawan that will be performed during the medical mission, which will be organized and conducted by OSP in Brooke’s Point and Taytay, Palawan in September.

Zamora said RTNFI shall provide the funds for the surgeries through a grant amounting to P2.250 million.

“RTNFI is proud to address cleft issues in Palawan, a province which is special to us. After the medical mission, we are hoping that the cleft children’s smiles will be brighter,” he said.

For his part, Zinn expressed gratitude to CBNC and RTNMC for shouldering the medical expenses of cleft children who will undergo surgeries.

The first mission will be held at the Northern Palawan Provincial Hospital in Taytay in Northern Palawan on August 8-13, 2016 while the second mission will be conducted at Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital in Brooke’s Point in Southern Palawan on October 24-29, 2016.

In recognizing CBNC and RTNMC’S support, Manzano, said this will be a big boost to “our stepped up drive to eliminate the backlog of cleft cases in the country and, moving forward, ensure that new cleft cases are treated before they turn one year old.”

According to OSP statistics, an estimated 5,000 Filipinos are born with the deformity every year, which encouraged CBNC and RTNMC to partner with Operation Smile to conduct medical missions in Palawan.

Oral cleft, one of the top 10 congenital deformities in the country, mars the physical appearance of those afflicted, impairs their speech and opens them to rejection and bullying.

Children with cleft are prone to infection due to the nature of their deformity and are often pressured to drop out of school early because their facial disfigurement and impaired speech invite bullying, thus denying them of education.

In addition to the free education and healthcare services in the communities surrounding its mine site in Rio Tuba, both CBNC and RTNMC support numerous educational and health programs around the province.

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