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SC asked to uphold Mining Act

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) was asked Tuesday to junk petitions to strike down Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 over constitutional issues that have been resolved with finality since 2004.

During the oral argument at the SC summer session hall here, Tito Lopez, counsel of Australian mining firm Oceana Gold operating in Nueva Vizcaya, warned of massive repercussions to the national economy should the high court nullify the law and cancel all Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) and Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA). 

“Can you imagine the possible impact of canceling the FTAA or MPSA? These foreign companies have already invested a lot in their explorations and actual operations and you will cancel their permits. Will that not discourage foreign investments?” he said.

“These foreign firms are already in the middle of the game, and changing the rules by nullifying RA 7942 and canceling the FTAA and MPSA already issued would have grave consequences to the national government and its economy,” he added.

Lopez also opposed the move of the petitioners to seek relief from the high court in pushing for an equitable sharing of revenues. He said the executive and legislative branches are addressing the matter. 

He said the high court in its December 2004 ruling in the case of La Bugal-B’laan Tribal Association versus the Ramos administration upheld the constitutionality of the law. He said a division of the high court had upheld the legality of their contract with the government.

“All these claims of petitioners had already been raised and passed upon by the honorable court in the earlier cases, where ruling were already declared final,” he said.

The other respondents – Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Hallmark Mining Corp. and Austral-Asia Link Mining Corp. – backed the position of Oceana Gold. 

One of the petitioners, Bayan Muna party-list Representative and senatorial bet Teddy Casiño, told a press conference before the oral argument that it would take a “flip-flopping” by the SC for them to win the case.

The other petitioners are Quezon 4th district Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III and former Akbayan party-list Rep. and  senatorial bet Risa Hontiveros. 

Their lead counsel, constitutionalist Christian Monsod, said the current mining framework provides for an “inequitable sharing of profit.”

Justice Antonio Carpio, who voted to declare unconstitutional the provisions of RA 7942, said the formula prescribed in the assailed ruling, where the government was supposed to get 50 percent of the profit, had not materialized.

AUSTRAL-ASIA LINK MINING CORP

BAYAN MUNA

CHRISTIAN MONSOD

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AGREEMENTS

HALLMARK MINING CORP

JUSTICE ANTONIO CARPIO

LA BUGAL-B

OCEANA GOLD

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