DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday accused Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas of coddling a mining company that has been penalized for overextraction.
Duterte claimed that Roxas has been protecting the business interests of Eric Gutierrez, owner of SR Metals Inc. (SRMI) which is based in Tubay, Agusan del Sur.
It is because of this protection that the mining operations of Gutierrez continue, the mayor said.
Gutierrez is a friend and business partner of Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, a stalwart of the ruling party.
The Davao mayor said Gutierrez has been giving Roxas some favors, one of which was the exclusive use of his private planes.
“He (Roxas) has been using his planes. I have personally seen Roxas use that plane in Davao,” Duterte told reporters.
“If that is not corruption, then what do you call that?” he added.
Reports said the mining company and its sister companies, San R Mining and Galeo Equipment and Mining Corp.—which listed themselves as small-scale mining companies—were ordered to pay P7 million in penalty for overextraction in 2007 after shipping 1.8 million MT of nickel from August 2006 to September 2007.
It earned the company P28 billion.
Small-scale mining companies are only allowed to extract an accumulated annual production of 150,000 MT or 50,000 MT each per year.
In 2014, the Supreme Court rejected SRMI’s interpretation that the 50,000 MT limit only pertained to nickel and cobalt minerals in their purest form and did not exclude soil and other materials.
Duterte urged voters not to be deceived by Roxas’ campaign ad that he will not steal.
“Sabi ko nga akala ko mga bilyonaryo ito, hindi ito mga korap [I thought because they are billionaires, they are not corrupt],” Duterte told reporters at the Davao City International Airport.
The mayor and his vice presidential running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, vowed fight corruption and criminality.
The camp of Duterte has also accused Roxas of buying the support of local officials by promising to allot billions of pesos in fund for local government units (LGUs).
Roxas had said that the money will come from the bottom up budgeting (BUB) program.
Peter Laviña, spokesperson and head of Duterte’s media team, said the promise of Roxas —supported and blessed by no less than his number 1 patron, President Benigno Aquino III—is aimed at cornering support from local officials.
“Now we see a process with millions of government money being used as a ruse into voting for Roxas. BUB is officially a campaign kitty of the administration bet,” Peter Laviña, Duterte’s spokesman, said.
The LP however dismissed Duterte’s tirade, saying the country does not need a “comedian.”
Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, spokesperson of the administration’s 2016 coalition, said Duterte is “self destructing.”
“He offers great entertainment value and people will realize, you know what he offers is just that. We’re not here for laughs,” the lawmaker told reporters.
“We’re here for the welfare of the 104 million people. Yes, he makes good fantastic entertainment. [But] We’re not here to elect a comedian,” Quimbo added, alluding to Duterte’s penchant of threatening to kill all criminals.
Roxas refused to engage Duterte in another word war after their verbal tussle concerning the former’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Economics.
“Wala akong panahon para sa mga walang kwentang bagay na ‘yan [I don’t have time for useless things like that],” Roxas said.