It seems a publicly listed but speculative mining company is worming its way to the good side of Palawan province?s Governor Joel Reyes.
Word goes around at the stock market that one of the boys of the Grandma at the Palace is acting as the ?padrino??meaning, really, influence peddler. It is, of course, a covert operation on his part.
Insiders in the Palawan provincial government could still identify the padrino as one of the Palace boys who took a high profile in the 2007 midterm elections.
From what I hear, the handsome devil from Malacañang is brokering an arrangement between Reyes and the mining company.
All Reyes has to do is, simply, to give the company an "endorsement."
Such an arrangement should help the company secure mining permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR.
Our sources in the provincial capitol also revealed that the padrino from Malacañang was also working on Palawan?s Vice Governor David Ponce de Leon.
Really, the mining group must be in some dire straits.
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At the stock market, anyway, talk is rife that the Reyes-courting mining company is none other than Oriental Peninsula Resources Group, or OPRG.
Code-named ORE on the Philippine Stock Exchange trading board, OPRG did its P800-million IPO early this year.
OPRG claimed in its IPO prospectus that it had an operational nickel mine in Nara town in Palawan.
Lately, news broke out that OPRG submitted questionable documents to the DENR to get the so-called MPSA, the "mining production sharing agreement."
The company must be running to take cover. Its shares are now down by more than 20 percent from their IPO price. The investing public obviously is not happy.
You see, it normally takes mining companies several years to secure the MPSA. Many of them even failed. The DENR imposes some stringent requirements.
As I said before, one primer on the MPSA lists down some 12 steps.
No wonder, a mining operation in Surigao took almost 10 years to meet all the DENR requirements for the MPSA.
OPRG reportedly got its MPSA from DENR in record time of only two weeks. But how did OPRG accomplish such a feat?
Based on word going around in the stock market, the listed OPRG took some shortcuts, which the DENR nevertheless allowed under its previous head, which now happens to be the energy secretary, none other than Secretary Angelo Reyes.
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Unfortunately for OPRG, some people in Palawan, including the provincial government, are now questioning the documents submitted by OPRG to the DENR.
This time under its new boss, Secretary Joselito Atienza, the DENR may take a different view of the OPRG case. You know, one that is not as kind and generous as it took during the time of Secretary Angie Reyes!
For instance, as part of the MPSA requirements, all mining companies must secure the approval of the communities in their mine sites, particularly the indigenous people.
OPRG reportedly does not have proof of such an approval.
Also included now in the DENR requirements is the approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the provincial board.
That's probably why OPRG is now courting Governor Joel Reyes.
Does OPRG have a problem! A big, big problem!
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Your see, some groups dragged Joel Reyes into the fight for control of the Nara nickel mine in Palawan, featuring Citinickel (led by the Caroline Tanchay group) versus Platinum Group Metals Corp. or PGMC (led by the Atayde cousins).
Citinickel is a subsidiary of the listed OPRG, whose high-profile organizer is none other than Tanchay herself.
Some time ago, a run-of-the-mill NGO from Quezon City, which is roughly 600 kilometers away from Palawan, filed a complaint against Joel Reyes before the Ombudsman.
The NGO alleged that Joel Reyes, as governor of Palawan, allowed the use of heavy equipment in the Nara nickel mine, when it was still operated by the Atayde group's PGMC.
But in the ensuing media demolition job against Joel Reyes, the issue that was highlighted most in the complaints before the Ombudsman was "over-extraction."
The NGO accused Joel Reyes of allowing PGMC to mine more than the law allowed for small-scale mining.
It did not matter that even the Ombudsman dropped the charges of "over extraction" for the simple reason that it was a big lie.
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Still, Joel Reyes must now contend with the accusation that he allowed PGMC to use heavy equipment in what was only a small-scale mining operation of the company in Palawan.
The governor has been insisting that the law never entirely prohibited the use of heavy equipment in small-scale mining.
In fact, the law requires that the small-scale mining firm should just observe a ratio between equipment and manual labor.
The camp of Joel Reyes has been saying that nobody?not even the Ombudsman?made any investigation on the actual ratio of heavy equipment and manual labor used in the Nara nickel mine when it was still operating.
How could anybody then say, according to the Joel Reyes camp, that the governor violated the law simply because PGMC at one time used heavy equipment in the mine?
Look, no technical agency of the government ever inspected the mine site for such an allegation.
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Like it or not, the case became part of the media demolition job against PGMC, because it was PGMC that operated the mine prior to its closure.
In the Joel Reyes camp, the legal team thus could not help but conclude that the governor was caught in the crossfire between the Tanchay group and the Atayde cousins.
The Joel Reyes camp is now convinced that the Tanchay group instigated the filing of the complaint against him.
Now, the same group is using a padrino from Malacañang to gain favor from the same governor.
Whether or not the governor will succumb to the pressure remains to be seen.
But I can almost hear what the Joel Reyes camp is saying: The nerve!
Clark-Subic garments hub? - 04/22/2008
Shadowy group after Pagcor - 04/08/2008
Grieve and take - 04/01/2008
Con of worms - 03/26/2008
Is there really a food crisis? - 03/25/2008