PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday cited a controversial mining firm owned by one of the Liberal Party’s (LP) campaign contributors, businessman Eric Gutierrez, and party stalwart, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, for practicing “responsible and sustainable” mining amid illegal mining accusations that hounded the firm.
Gutierrez and Erice are the top honchos of SR Metal Inc. (SRMI), which had been previously accused to have violated the conditions of their small-scale mining permits since 2005.
Erice, according to The Manila Times columnist Erwin Tulfo in his previous articles, “is one of the LP leaders who are seeing to it that their campaign booty is swamped with cold cash.”
“Erice, a member of LP’s national executive committee, is also known as a ‘godfather’ or protector of a group of erring mining companies including those owned by businessman Francis Enrico “Eric” Gutierrez,” alleged Tulfo in his column, Deadshot, published last year.
Speaking during the presidential mineral industry environmental awards ceremony in Malacañang, the President cited SR Metals among the mining firms that “have performed well in protecting the environment, keeping their operations safe, and helping the communities in which they operate.”
“Your companies are embodiments of our belief that inclusive growth is the most potent philosophy—both in business and governance. Fostering good will in the areas that support your success is not only the right thing to do, it also ensures the sustainability of your operations, and secures the future of your firms,” he said.
Besides SR Metals, this year’s awardees are Silangan Mindanao Mining, OceanaGold, RioTuba Nickel Mining, and Coral Bay Nickel.
“I made it a point to be here today to thank all of you personally, and to express my hope that, next time, most of you will have shifted from the runner-up awards, to the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award. Moving forward, our government will continue working with you, in the belief that it is through constant communication and cooperation that we will give rise to industries that are truly sustainable, inclusive, and profitable,” Aquino said.
SR Metals, according to Tulfo, was among Aquino’s biggest contributors in the 2010 elections.
Erice had admitted being a shareholder in Gutierrez’s firm and its subsidiaries San R Mining and Construction Corp. and Galeo Equipment and Mining Company, Inc. which have been the subject of complaints of residents in Agusan Del Norte town of Tubay.