The Philippine Star
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Two party-list groups yesterday asked the Supreme Court to scrap the Philippine Mining Act or Republic Act 7942 for being unconstitutional.
In the petition, Akbayan Rep. Ana Hontiveros-Baraquel and Bayan Reps. Lorenzo Tañada III and Teodoro Casiño asked the Court to issue a temporary restraining order enjoining the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from approving any application for Mineral Production Sharing Agreements in three municipalities in Davao del Norte and to nullify the seven MPSAs that the DENR had already reassigned to respondent mining firms Hallmark Mining Corp. and Austral-Asia Link Mining Corp.
The MPSAs cover 17,215.4474 hectares in the three municipalities of Mati,
According to the petitioners, RA 7942 is unconstitutional as it violates Article XII Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution which states that “all lands of public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests, timber, wildlife, flora and fauna and other natural resources are owned by the State.
“The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens.”
Such agreements, according to the same provision, may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law.
However, the petitioners asserted that Section 80 of RA 7942 and Section 212 of Department Order 96-40 violate the Constitution since they provide that the government share shall be excise taxes.
In addition, the petitioners said DENR has no basis to enter into MPSAs as the law did not constitutionally provide for the basis for sharing.The petitioners also said the basic rights of the people are at risk if the MPSAs will not be voided.