February 26, 2016

Malacanang awards Roxas’ Illegal Miner “Friend”

SR Metals Inc receives "environmental award" from Malacanang

Philippine Presidential candidate’s illegal miner crony receives “environmental award” from PNoy.

San Roque Metals Inc. (SR Metals), along with several mining companies, received the 
“Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award” from President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“The companies honored today have worked with us, helping usher in the next progressive era in your industry,” Aquino said in a speech during the event.

Aquino said, “We cannot simply ignore the value of mining that is done responsibly, under fair and effective government regulation.”

The criteria for the awards are:
  • Environmental Protection
  • Safe operations
  • Helping Local Communities
Aquino said SR Metals “performed well” in all three criteria.

The Malacanang ceremony was on January 20, or 18 months after the Supreme Court shut down SR Metals’ Agusan operations after the latter violated mining laws, causing widespread environmental destruction in Tubay, Agusan del Norte.

“Environmental Protection”

In 2006, the DENR ordered the closure of SR Metals’ site in Tubay , Agusan del Norte, after it abused its mining quotas.

SR Metals extracted almost 2 million tonnes in 2006-2007, worth almost Php 3 billion and almost 40 times its legal limit.

Registered as a “small scale” miner, SR Metals’ allowable limit was 50,000 tonnes.

Despite the 2006 DENR order, SR Metals continued mining operations until the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed the order in 2014.

SR Metals’ Tubay site covers 570 hectares and appears to use heavy equipment.
A Google satellite image shows the extent of SRMI’s over-extraction and its effects on the otherwise pristine Tubay environment:

SRMI's Tubay Mining Site: 5 square kilometers, twice the size of Pateros.

Zooming in, heavy equipment can be seen on SR Metals’ mining site:

Small scale mining is supposed to rely mainly on manual labor, but SRMI’s Tubay Mine appears to rely on heavy equipment and facilities commonly found in large-scale mining operations. Clockwise from Top-left: an excavator; an office building or a processing facility;three tailings ponds; a convoy of dump trucks; another dump truck; yet another pair of dump trucks.

The Small Scale Mining Act (RA 7076) defines small scale mining as “mining activities which rely heavily on manual labor using simple implement and methods and do not use explosives or heavy mining equipment”.

“Helping their local communities”

As SR Metals defies the 2006 order, reports show that that the company also neglected to settle its local obligations.

In 2010, Agusan officials and Tubay locals urged Aquino to halt SR Metals’ Tubay operations on the following grounds:
  • SRMI failed to pay municipal taxes and business fees (₱100 million).
  • SRMI did not pay extraction fees (₱120 million)
  • SRMI did not pay 1% royalty fees to the lumads, identified as Accredited Tribal Sectoral Leaders of Indigenous Cultural Communities of Tubay.
Here is a TV5 report about SR Metals' various abuses :

Another youtube video shows the alleged illegal dispersal of a group of residents that were holding a peaceful protest against SR Metals' operations:

Roxas’ “Friend”

SR Metals CEO Eric Gutierrez owns the fleet of planes used for Manuel “Mar” Roxas II’s presidential campaign. These planes are also used to fly VP candidate Leni Robredo and the Liberal Party (LP) senatorial lineup.

Gutierrez has close ties with Roxas, and the rest of the PNoy administration.
  • In 2010, Aquino used a Gutierrez-owned plane for his presidential campaign, according to the Philippine Star.
  • In 2012, Rappler reported that Gutierrez accompanied Aquino in his official 2012 US and UK trips, as part of the official Philippine delegation.
  • In 2013, Former PCDSPO Secretary Ricky Carandang, who served the PNoy administration, was reported to have plans of becoming the Head of Corporate Communications for either one of Gutierrez’s companies upon his resignation from his cabinet-level position in 2013, according to The Manila Times. A recent report suggests that Carandang currently works for Air Juan.
  • In 2014, aerial footage of Vice-president Jejomar Binay’s alleged Batangas farm was captured using a Gutierrez-owned helicopter, according to the United Nationalist’s Alliance. The footage was used in the senate hearings concerning corruption allegations against Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who belongs to the opposition.
In response to corruption allegations, Roxas said he leased the aircraft from Gutierrez and that the said transactions were “above-board”.

“He is my friend. What’s wrong with that?,” Roxas added.  (Thinking Pinoy)

For the complete investigative report on SR Metals, please read "Roxas and Corruption: Campaign Planes, Election Spending, Mining Interests and Lumad Rights."