Biz Buzz: Philex faces the JesuitsBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Notwithstanding what its peers deemed as a hostile crowd, the country’s biggest mining firm, Philex Mining Corp., sent a full contingent to last week’s Society of Jesus Social Apostolate Mining Colloquium in Loyola that was organized by the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG). Philex, the only large-scale miner that participated in the forum, came in full force led by its president Eulalio Austin Jr., vice president Victor Francisco and a platoon of environmental and community development people who showcased the mining firm’s operations.
Philex, the country’s longest continuously operating miner with a tenement area of more than 136,000 hectares, noted that its operations in Padcal, which started in 1958, was the first metal miner in the country that was ISO 14001-certified. The Philex presentation noted, for instance, that it had gone beyond compliance as far as environmental investments were concerned, spending on average 5.5 percent of its total mining and milling cost for environmental management when the government requires only 3-5 percent. The company summed up its involvement in HELP [health, education (especially for indigenous peoples), livelihood and public infrastructure] programs.
And what do organizers have to say? In a note to Biz Buzz, ASoG Dean Antonio la Viña said: “Together with Fr. (Emeterio) Barcelon (of Milamdec Microfinance Foundation Inc. and Xavier University Ateneo de Cagayan) who gave a forceful presentation on why mining can be good in addressing poverty and a representative from the UP Mining Engineers who presented their pro-responsible mining stand, we were able to see mining and the industry in the best light and were enlightened.”—Doris C. Dumlao
Squabble over resources
It seems that it’s not just the metal mining industry that is having difficulty securing permits from indigenous peoples (IPs) through the process prescribed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Government officials and industry players alike said that those in the energy business are also having “issues” with the NCIP.
Apparently, even prospective projects using overhead imaging have hit snags because of rules concerning Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). Such rules have become controversial—not least in the metallic mining industry—because it was implemented without industry consultation. Some stakeholders said the new prescriptions seem complex and make it very difficult to execute projects in a timely fashion.
“Often, we haven’t even reached ground development and already there are several groups fighting over territories and shares. Hopefully in the future we can at least see if there are real prospects in a certain area and then we can talk about such issues. Otherwise, attracting investments would be very difficult,” one of our sources said.
While energy stakeholders recognize that the government must put in safeguards so that IP rights are protected and environmental impact is minimized amid development, they are also crossing their fingers that developments can be implemented faster—preferably before brownouts completely cripple Mindanao or start spreading to other parts of the country in the years to come.—Riza T. Olchondra
For the benefit of PAL?
Budget airlines have virtually reached a consensus that new rules that restrict overbooking and mandate ticket refunds for no-shows would hurt the entire industry. The new rules, passed by the Civil Aeronautics Board at the prodding of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), would lead to higher fares for consumers if Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Zest Airways are to be believed. Notably absent in the opposition movement to the new rules, for some reason, is Philippine Airlines and budget carrier affiliate AirPhil Express.
Why the unprofitable PAL group, now led by San Miguel Corp.’s Ramon S. Ang, would support the said measures, we may never really know. But one possible explanation is that the stricter rules may even be to PAL’s benefit. See, PAL already allows late “no-shows” to rebook their flights at minimal costs.
It has also been the company’s long-time policy to be kind to passengers affected by overbooking—putting them in hotels and giving them compensation for the trouble. All this, of course, works well for legacy airlines like PAL that value customer loyalty and shun the commoditization of air travel. Allowing the country’s regulatory environment to change—where the budget airline model is penalized and legacy carriers are rewarded—PAL is only looking after its best interests.
Perhaps the real question should be: Why would PAL ever oppose the DoTC?—Paolo Montecillo
Ex-SEC chief vs SEC
One year after retirement from government service, former chair Fe Barin of the Securities and Exchange Commission has resurfaced in the corporate world—in the media no less—as executive vice president and compliance officer of Manila Bulletin. But no sooner had the former chief corporate watchdog warmed her seat in Intramuros (her appointment took effect May 1) than she received a “show-cause” letter from a former SEC subordinate. The SEC Corporate Finance Department (CFD), in a letter dated May 28, asked Barin to explain in five days why she should not be penalized for the non-disclosure of shares ownership in the newspaper.
The letter issued by Acting CFD Director Justina Callangan cited a provision in the Securities Regulation Code (Section 23) that requires every person who is a director or an officer of a corporate issuer (along with those who own at least 10 percent of shares) to report to the SEC (and to the Philippine Stock Exchange if it is listed) the amount of all stocks held. For some who remember, this was reminiscent of at least one similar case involving another former SEC chair.
Barin, for her part, promptly wrote back to the CFD (without waiting for the five-day deadline to expire), clarifying in a June 1 letter that she did not have any direct or indirect ownership of any shares issued by Bulletin and stressed that her appointment did not cause any change in its ownership structure.
The lady lawyer explained that there was no intent to violate Rule 23. “It is my honest belief in good faith that the reference to or inclusion of officer in the rule is to cover a person who is a beneficial owner of shares in an issuer corporation where he is, or was appointed as, an officer because in this case, there would be a change in the ownership of shares in that corporation, the situation which the rule would like to monitor and keep track of,” Barin wrote. Our sources said that apart from this official reply, the CFD’s Callangan also got a phone call and received a mouthful from the former boss.—Doris C. Dumlao
Capital Markets Integrity Corp., a self-regulatory organization that has vowed to build a “culture of transparency, integrity and compliance,” is looking into the erratic trades on a newly listed company that saw unusual price spikes, industry sources confirmed.
Even without a new surveillance system detecting erratic trades, the wild swings of this company, which has a small public float, have been conspicuous. According to the grapevine, it seemed that the jockey might have been emboldened after seeing the stock price breaking out of the original “target” price and became more aggressive but lost control at the peak. The sharp upswing was thus followed by a freefall.—Doris C. Dumlao
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Tags: Capital Markets Integrity Corp. , Energy , Fe Barin , indigenous peoples , Markets and Exchanges , Mining and quarrying , mining colloquium , Philex Mining , Philippine Airlines , Securities and Exchange Commission