Liberal Party financiers in hot water over alleged falsification of mining documents - The Daily Sentry

Monday, November 12, 2018

Liberal Party financiers in hot water over alleged falsification of mining documents

President Rodrigo Duterte and a file photo of an open mining pit from Google

Manila, Philippines – A mining firm operated by businessmen connected to former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino faces government investigation over billions of pesos’ worth of ores that were allegedly shipped to China, which were suspected to have been mis-declared since year 2006.

According to a report from Daily Tribune, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reached out to former Customs chief Isidro Lapena asking the latter to look into it.

In a letter, DENR asked the former commissioner to investigate the most likely “undervaluation and misdeclaration of nickel ores that known Liberal Party (LP) financier and treasurer Eric Gutierrez of S.R. Metals Inc. (SRMI) shipped out to China, documents provided the Daily Tribune showed. reached”

SRMI is also led by LP spokesman Rep. Edgar Erice of Caloocan City.

The report also states that SRMI had been found by “the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to have exceeded the 50,000-ton allowed annual volume for a small-scale miner and, consequently, then DENR Secretary Angelo T. Reyes issued a cease and desist order against SRMI.”

It was also cited by Tribune’s article that there were group of people and non-government organizations that have filed cases against the said mining firm for allegedly dumping pollutants in water flowing through Agusan del Norte, which includes the adjacent fishing grounds and farmlands.

P28B in sales

It was said that within 10 years since 2004, SRMI has ranked in over P28 billion in ore sales but there were no government records of tax payments to either the Agusan del Norte local government or to the national government.

DENR undersecretary for climate change service and mining concerns Analiza Rebuelta-Teh urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue to investigate the tax liabilities of SRMI and its affiliates.*

SRMI is reportedly due to remit the tax due from the five percent of the gross proceeds amounting to millions of pesos.

Small scale

The Tribune also cited the complaint filed by Rodney Basiana of Basiana Mining Exploration Corp., which stated that the mining outfit started its operations in “2006 using the documents of BMEC, assigning Tubay Exploration to go into operations in the guise of small-scale mining with a 50,000-ton limit yearly ore extraction.”

Allegedly, the company used a copy of the official receipt for P5,520 that BMEC paid for in its application for a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement in 1997 with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR, the letter of Basiana to addressed to DENR secretary Cimatu said.

However, the supposed small-scale mining firm which began operating in 2006 had actually sold P2.8 billion exceeding the 50,000-ton limit. And within a decade, the company came out with P28 billion in revenues out of minerals like nickel, that were allegedly shipped to China – this, according to records of the Philippine Ports Authority and MGB.

Now, two of LP businessmen are facing charges of falsification of public documents for “fraudulent mining documents and using such documents to dupe the government and its business partners of billions of pesos in mining revenues.”*

Alleged fraud

The complainant, Basiana, filed cases against Erice, Gutierrez and his sons John Anthony and Miguel Alberto (Mico) and Alejandro Basalio and Antonio Dimabayu before the Surigao City Prosecutor’s Office for falsification and use of falsified documents.

Reportedly, the said officers and members of the SRMI in 2005 were also accused of “presenting their corporation to be the holder of mining claims over an 81-hectare area in Tubay, Agusan Del Norte, when it was Basiana’s company, BMEC, which held such rights.”

If recalled, President Rodrigo Duterte firmly warned “irresponsible miner” operators of open pit mines or else, he would use the full force of the law in handling them as he reiterated that it is destroying the environment.

“To the mining industry, I say this once again, and maybe for the last time. Do not destroy the environment or compromise our resources; repair what you have mismanaged. Try to change (your) management radically, because this time you will have restrictive policies. The prohibition of open pit mining is one." the President said in his third State of the Nation Address.

“It is destroying my country. It is destroying the environment. It will destroy the world of tomorrow for our children,” he added