Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has ordered the investigation of alleged “midnight deals” involving some officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and mining companies granted extension or expansion of their operations during the last days of the Aquino administration.
Acting on a complaint from the Alyansa Tigil-Mina (ATM), Lopez demanded an audit of all mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA), commonly known as mining license, approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in May and June this year.
In a press statement, Jayvee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, said a dozen mining firms were granted extension of their MPSA by then MGB Director and now undersecretary Leo Jasareno despite an executive order issued by then President Benigno Aquino 3rd suspending the issuance or renewal of mining licenses.
Executive Order (EO) 79 states that no new mineral agreement shall be issued by MGB pending the approval of a legislation clarifying the existing revenue-sharing scheme and mechanisms for the mining industry.
“The extension of mining licenses by MGB is questionable since it was against the order of PNoy, who was still the President at that time. Worse, some of these licenses were expansion of contract areas, meaning expanded operations,” Garganera stressed.
He said these “midnight deals” were approved just days before Aquino stepped down. The MGB’s website showed that Jasareno approved some of the licenses on June 28 this year, just two days before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.
The companies that were given an extension are Sinosteel Phils. H.Y. Mining Corp. in Dinagat Island; Surigao Integrated Resources Corp., in Surigao Del Norte; Chromerock Dev. Corp. in Eastern Samar; and Mt. Labo Exploration and Dev. Corp. in Camarines Norte.
Those awarded with license for expansion of operations are Adnama Mining Resources Inc.; Holcim Mining; Shangfil Mining and Trading; Kingking Mining; Core Mining Corp.; Stagno Mining; Sinophil Mining; Quarry Ventured Phils. Inc.; Rapid City and Dev. Corp.; Global Mini-Met Resources; Parvisgold Inc.; Mina Tierra Gracia Inc.; Investwell Resources Inc; Surigao Integrated Resources Corp., Shuley Mine Inc.; Mt. Labo Exploration; and Westchinamin Corp.
Lopez, in ordering the probe, wants to find out who gave Jasareno the go-signal to to grant the expansion permits.