TUESDAY |MARCH 04, 2008| PHILIPPINES
DAVAO residents and party-list groups Akbayan and Bayan yesterday separately petitioned the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional Republic Act 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995), particularly the provision on Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA).
Representatives Ana Hontiveros Baraquiel (Akbayan), Lorenzo Tanada III, Teodoro Casiño (Bayan), and several residents of Davao Oriental asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order enjoining the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from acting on any application for MPSA and to nullify seven MPSAs already assigned to mining firms Hallmark Mining and Austral-Asia Link Mining.
The MPSAs cover 17,215.4474 hectares in the towns of Mati, San Isidro and Gov. Generoso, all in Davao Oriental.
The petitioners claimed existing MPSAs take up about 442,804.07 hectares that include sizeable indigenous lands. Two Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) cover 447,308.26 hectares that include indigenous communities, with 54 more FTAA applications targeting 2,350,643.34 hectares of land in the country.
Petitioners said Section 80 of RA 7942 is constitutionally infirm since it provides that the government share shall be limited to excise taxes which contradicts the Constitutional provision that development of the national patrimony should be based on an equitable distribution of wealth.
Petitioners said DENR had no basis to enter into MPSAs as the law did not constitutionally provide for the basis for sharing. They said such defect in RA 7942 limiting the share of the state to excise taxes cannot be remedied by any executive issuance.
The group also pointed out that residents living near open mining pits run the risks of succumbing to various diseases due to pollution of the groundwater due to toxic wastes, as well as sedimentation.