MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Denouncing the actions of the Nueva Vizcaya province in endorsing the CAMC Mining Project in Didipio

Published by MAC on 2005-09-12


The following is a joint statement from local groups and FoE Philippines denouncing the provincial board of Nueva Vizcaya in the Philippines, for illegally over-ruling the decision of the local, municipal council to not endorse the proposed mining project of Climax Arimco Mining Corporation (CAMC) at Didipio. As the statement notes the municipal rejection should be enough to stop the project, and the province is acting beyond its power in over-ruling such a decision. But this is typical of the erosion of governance in the Philippines owing to the pressure being brought to bear by the government to 'fast-track' mineral projects.

Denouncing the Actions of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Nueva Vizcaya in Endorsing the CAMC Gold/Copper Mining Project in Didipio

Joint Statement of the Diocese Of Bayombong, Diocesan Social Action Center (DSAC), Didipio Earth-Savers Multi-Purpose Association, Inc. (DESAMA) And The Legal Rights And Natural Resources Center-Kasama Sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth-Philippines (LRCKsK/FoE-Phil.)

September 12, 2005

On 6 August 2004, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued an amended Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to Climax-Arimco Mining Corporation for its proposed Didipio Gold/Copper Project. Regarding the local government consent prerequisite, CAMC sought the amendment of its ECC to modify the requirement, transferring the authority to give consent FROM the barangay and the municipal councils TO the sangguniang bayan. To quote –

"2. Prior to the implementation of the project, the proponent shall submit to the EMB a resolution from the concerned Sangguniang Bayan endorsing the project …" (emphasis added)

It was clear from the amended ECC that it was the municipal council of Kasibu that was given the authority to endorse the CAMC mining project. Granting that the Local Government Code of 1991 did not identify which local government unit should issue the consent, it was CAMC itself that identified the Sangguniang Bayan of Kasibu as the sole authority from which the local government consent would obtain.

In compliance with this consent requirement, the municipal council of Kasibu called for a special session on 8 August 2005, solely to decide on whether or not the sanggunian bayan would endorse the CAMC Gold/Copper Mining Project in Didipio. The council voted not to endorse the CAMC mining project. There was no challenge to the fact that the municipal council of Kasibu is the "concerned" sangguniang bayan as referred to in the CAMC amended ECC. There was no challenge filed against the propriety of the council's decision.

On 7 September 2005, in an unprecedented move, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial council) of Nueva Vizcaya, during its regular session, the members decided to vote and thereafter endorse the CAMC mining project in Didipio, willfully ignoring its mandate under the Local Government Code of 1991. In Article 110, it is stated that –

"(a) Within three (3) days after approval, the secretary to the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan shall transmit to the sangguniang panlalawigan for review, copies of approved ordinances and resolutions approving and adopting the local development plans and public investment programs formulated by the local development councils.

...

(c) If the sangguniang panlalawigan finds that such an ordinance or resolution is beyond the power conferred upon the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan concerned, it shall declare such ordinance or resolution invalid in whole or in part. The sangguniang panlalawigan shall enter its action in the minutes and shall advise the corresponding city or municipal authorities of the action it has taken." (Emphasis added)

It is clear from this provision that the sangguniang panlungsod will act pursuant to a municipal resolution ONLY (1) after the secretary of the sangguniang bayan transmits copies of the resolution and (2) to review whether the action of the sangguniang bayan is within the power conferred to it.

It is therefore undisputed that the decision of the sangguniang bayan of Kasibu not to endorse the CAMC Gold/Copper Mining Project is well-within the power conferred to it by the Local Government Code of 1991 and even the amended ECC applied for by CAMC itself.

The issue is no longer about whether the sangguniang panlalawigan of Nueva Vizcaya has the power to decide on the non-endorsement of the sangguniang bayan of Kasibu. Clearly, from the provisions cited above, the only power of review the sangguniang panlalawigan has is to see whether the subject matter is within the jurisdiction of the municipal council or whether the issuance of the municipal resolution is procedurally in order.

In endorsing the CAMC mining project after the sangguniang bayan of Kasibu, without a shadow of doubt, already rejected it and in deciding on an unchallenged municipal resolution, the sangguniang panlalawigan of Nueva Vizcaya acted beyond its jurisdiction and thereby gravely abused its discretion.

We are condemning the unconstitutional and therefore invalid actions of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Nueva Vizcaya pursuant to the rejection by the Sangguniang Bayan of Kasibu of the CAMC Gold/Copper Mining Project! The people of Kasibu, through their elected representatives in the municipal council, have spoken. We are denouncing the willful disregard by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the rule of law and the mandate of its elective office.

We now call on the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to respect the will of its constituents, to respect the autonomy of the local governments and to uphold the legality of the rejection of CAMC Gold/Copper mining project!

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