MAC: Mines and Communities

Supreme Court Reaffirms Constitutionality Of Mining Act

Published by MAC on 2006-07-27
Source: The Philippine Star ()

SC reaffirms constitutionality of Mining Act

By Katherine Adraneda, The Philippine Star

27th July 2006

The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 when it junked with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by the Didipio Earth Savers’ Multi-Purpose Association Inc. (DESAMA).

In a resolution dated June 14, the high court denied DESAMA’s petition regarding its March 30 decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Mining Act, saying that the basic issues have already been addressed and there is no substantial argument to warrant a modification of its decision.

The high court also denied for lack of merit the motion of another petitioner seeking to intervene in the case.

"We feel that a lot of questions remain unanswered and poses a threat to our rights," said lawyer Francis Joseph Ballesteros, of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), a group helping DESAMA.

The LRC said the SC’s denial on their petition for intervention is contrary to a decision it previously rendered en banc in the case of the La Bugal B’laan Tribal Association Inc. where it allowed the intervention of the Chamber of Mines.

"We are disappointed, but we respect the SC decision," said lawyer Mary Ann dela Peña, also of LRC.

Nevertheless, the LRC considered the SC resolution as a "victory" because it declared the entry of mining concessionaires into private property as a form of "taking."

This declaration, the LRC noted, means that mining firms would not be able to start operating in an area until the owners sell their property for mine use. Citing Article III, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution, the LRC pointed out that the valid exercise of eminent domain requires "taking for public use and upon payment of just compensation."

The court affirms the first, while the other two requirements remained unsettled, the LRC stressed.

"The Philippine Mining Act does not provide for a public purpose for such a taking nor does it provide for the payment of just compensation to affected landowners," the DESAMA argued in its motion for reconsideration. Climax-Arimco Mining Corp. (CAMC) is reportedly offering only P200 to P250 per square meter for use of land in areas it intends to set up mining operations. "Not all the owners of property have sold their lands. So, legally speaking, mining operations in Didipio should not proceed yet," Dela Peña said.

The indigenous peoples of Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya vowed to continue to defend their lands against mining firms. The DESAMA, with the assistance of the LRC, also said it would exhaust all measures to assert the people’s land rights and community control of the natural resources in their area.

"We will not stop, we will continue to fight for our lands and livelihood. Ang lupa ay para sa mamamayan, hindi para sa dayuhang minahan (The land is for the people, not for foreign mining firms)," said Peter Duyapat, a leader of DESAMA

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