Benguet pocket miners sue DENR

By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Engineer Lomino Kaniteng representing the Benguet Federation of Small-scale Miners, Inc (BFSSMI) filed a complaint against Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for allegedly exceeding his authority on the issuance of Administrative Order No. 2015-03 or the revised implementing rules and regulations (RIRR) for Republic Act 7076 or the People’s Small-scale Mining Act which the complainant said runs counter to RA 7076 itself and The Constitution.

“The RIRR is ultra vires and was issued beyond the limits of the authority of the defendant Secretary,” the complaint said.

Paje issued the RIRR last March 16.

In their complaint the BFSSMI asked the courts to scrap sections 10, 13, 16, and 21 of the RIRR. They also asked for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction on the implementation of the RIRR.

“Should the assailed provisions of the revised implementing rules and regulations be implemented, it is not only the livelihood of the small scale miners which would be affected or at stake, but likewise, their liberty,” the complaint stated.

The complainants seek an injunction to prevent the “impending damage” the implementation of the RIRR would cause to the pocket miners’ livelihood. They also sought a TRO while waiting for the court to issue an injunction.

According to the complaint, Section 10 of the RIRR imposes exorbitant application fees which violates Section 9 of RA 7076 which states that “Applications for a contract shall be subject to reasonable fee(s) to be paid to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional office having jurisdiction over the area.”

“The application fee prescribed in the RIRR setting the amounts of P10,000 for non-metallic minerals, and P20,000 for gold, silver and/or chromite are not only excessive and unreasonable, but tends not to regulate the trade of small scale miners but hampers or prohibits it,” the complaint stated.

Thus violating Section 2, Article XII of Constitution which recognizes small scale mining as a formal sector of the mining industry.

Section 13 of the RIRR, the complaint pointed out it limited the small scale mining contract to a maximum of six years and the minerals to be extracted which runs counter with Section 13 of RA 7076 that does not set limits to the length of contract or kinds of minerals.

“This is a clear encroachment on the legislative powers which belongs to Congress,” the complaint said.

Moreover, Section 16 of the RIRR has increased the processor’s fee from P20,000 to P50,000 and revised the simple procedure in the application for processor’s permit. According to the complaint Section 16 will not “promote, develop, protect and rationalize viable small scale mining activities in order to generate employment opportunities…” as RA 7076 envisions but would rather threaten the welfare and livelihood of pocket miners.

The complaint added that the increase in fee and additional requirements for a processor’s permit were adopted without consultation with the pocket miners. It further said that ordinary pocket miners could not comply with the new requirements because these are “tailored-fit to big-scale mining operation”.

The complaint also questioned Section 21 of the RIRR that provides for the inclusion of two representatives from the large scale mining sector to the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board.

“The inclusion of a representative from the large scale mining is ironical.”

The complaint said the RIRR was supposed to regulate small scale mining in relation to RA 7076 which has no reference (to) or mention of large scale mining. #nordis.net

Share

Leave a Reply