By Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com
MANILA – The Supreme Court has set for deliberation on Wednesday in Baguio City a motion filed by local mining firm Southeast Mindanao Gold Mining Corporation (SMGMC) seeking to reconsider its 2006 ruling that that cancelled all mining rights and operations of Filipino firms within the Diwalwal Gold Rush Area.
The Court’s Special Third Division has decided to include in its agenda the urgent manifestation and motion filed by SMGMC seeking to elevate its case to the en banc.
Earlier, SMGMC claimed that the 2006 decision of the Court’s First Division has paved the way for the government’s understanding agreement with ZTE International Investments, Limited, the investment arm of the ZTE Corporation of China, to explore, develop and operate mining areas within the 8,100 hectare Mt. Diwalwal Gold Rush Area, in Mindanao.
The agreement, the SEMGMC said, is questionable considering that the status of the mining areas in Mt. Diwalwal remains unsettled.
It noted that the government executed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ZTE International on July 12, 2006 or just less than three weeks after the SC First Division issued the subject decision.
It further stressed that the signing of the memorandum with ZTE was made even before the June 23, 2006 decision has attained its finality. The first motion to reconsider the decision was filed in August 2006 or almost a month after the signing of the ZTE agreement.
SEMGMC’s motion for reconsideration is still pending resolution before the SC. The mining firm motion has been referred to the Special Third Division following the retirement of the two members of the First Division.
Included as supporting document to SEMGMC’s urgent motion to elevate its case to the full court was a copy of the Senate’s transcript on the March 11, 2008 testimony of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila.
Based on the transcript, Favila confirmed that on July 12, 2006 he signed in behalf of the Philippine government a MOU with ZTE International Investments, Limited involving the establishment of an information technological school; operating of mining in Davao; exploration, development and operation of mining areas in Diwalwal; and the establishment of an economic zone in Davao area.
According to SEMGMC’s, the Diwalwal area subject of an MOU with ZTE is the same area covered in the 2006 SC decision.
In June 26, 2006 decision, The First Division held that Marcopper’s exploration permit has already expired and that its subsequent transfer to its local subsidiary SEMGMC on February 1994 is void. SEMGMC is a domestic corporation alleged to be a 100%-owned subsidiary of MMC.