MANILA, Philippines – The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) filed yesterday a motion before the Supreme Court seeking to nullify the petitions filed by former Akbayan partylist Risa Hontiveros and others challenging the constitutionality of revenue-sharing provisions in the Mining Act of 1995.
In a statement, the group said it is represented by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza.
In the petition, which was filed at 3 p.m. last Wednesday, COMP is arguing that the Supreme Court has already decided on the constitutionality of the Mining Act in the landmark La Bugal-B’laan vs. Ramos case in 2004, a decision penned by former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban.
“COMP is joining its member respondents in asking that the petitions filed by former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros and others in March 2008 against Sections 80 and 81 of Republic Act 7942, or the Mining Act, be dismissed,” COMP said.
COMP argued that since the La Bugal ruling – the longest in Supreme Court history which took six years for the high tribunal to deliberate on – there has been no material change in the circumstances of the Philippine mining industry.
“There is no compelling reason for the high tribunal to abandon its previous ruling,” COMP said in its motion.
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In their petition, Hontiveros, along with Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casino and others argued that the revenue sharing provision is disadvantageous to the government.
Sec. 80 stipulates that the government share in mineral production sharing agreement (mpsa) is limited to excise taxes.
Sec. 81,on the other hand, limits the government’s share in Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) to taxes, fees and royalties.
COMP said about P173 billion ($4 billion) in mining investments have been poured into the country since 2004 following the high court’s ruling, making the industry a significant contributor to national development, added COMP.
The group noted that those investments include billions of pesos invested in the countryside.
“An adverse ruling by the high tribunal on the petitions not only undermines mining investments but also “leads to a significant loss of investors’ confidence, not only in the mining industry but broadly across all industries, severely impacting the investment climate and harming the country’s credibility,” COMP said.
“To have the Supreme Court revisit its ruling so soon after the (La Bugal) decision became final in 2005 will definitely shake investor confidence and destabilize a critically needed industry,” it added.
COMP said the Hontiveros-led petition “challenges not only the stability of the decisions of the Supreme Court, but also the high tribunal’s institutional integrity.”
Named as respondents in the petition were the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), OceanaGold (Philippines) Inc., TVI Resources and Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD), and Asiaticus Mining Corp. (AMCOR).
SMI, OceanaGold, TVIRD, and AMCOR are all members of COMP, an association of exploration, mining, mineral processing, quarrying, cement, oil and gas, and service industries, as well as professional associations.
“A stable regulatory regime is a necessary foundation upon which to encourage business investment and the growth of industries. An adverse ruling by the Supreme Court on the petitions will be seen as once again changing the rules in the middle of the game,” COMP said.