Group warns MGB vs letting Pichay firm sell ore | Inquirer Business

Group warns MGB vs letting Pichay firm sell ore

/ 05:40 AM October 02, 2016

SURIGAO CITY, Philippines—Environmental activists here threatened to sue officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) if they allow a nickel mining firm, owned by a congressman, to continue shipping millions of pesos worth of ore despite a government order that suspended the firm’s operations for violations of environmental laws.

“While the environment department is busy suspending erring mining companies in the country, it apparently continues to allow a suspended mine in Surigao del Norte to profit out of Mother Nature’s misery,” said Edgar Canda, provincial coordinator of the militant group Bayan Muna.

Canda, whose group is part of environmental watchdog Caraga Watch, issued the warning amid reports that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is likely to allow Claver Mineral Development Corp. (CMDC) to sell two more shiploads of nickel ore to China.


Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay is owner and president of CMDC.


The suspended mining company was granted permit to sell three shiploads of ore to China in June but it was able to sell only one after Environment Secretary Gina Lopez halted the other shipments amid the DENR’s nationwide audit of mining companies.

 Verbal order

Daniel Bilderol, MGB Caraga officer in charge, confirmed that CMDC had been allowed to sell ore but pointed to Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno, former MGB chief, as the official who gave the “verbal order.”

“Undersecretary Jasareno instructed us to issue the two OTPs (ore transport permits),” Bilderol said. He said Jasareno’s verbal order was given in the presence of Pichay at the sidelines of the hearing for the proposed 2017 budget of the DENR at the House of Representatives on Sept. 5.

Bilderol said Jasareno, Lopez and other high-ranking MGB and DENR officials were present in the hearing for the DENR’s P9-billion budget for next year.

Three days before the DENR budget hearing, Pichay called Lopez “crazy” for seeking the closure of all mining firms in the country.


Bilderol, however, said the MGB Caraga office has not formally issued the permits to CMDC pending Jasareno’s written memorandum.

Bilderol said when the MGB Caraga office tried to obtain written approval from MGB Director Mario Luis Jacinto, the official declined and told them to get the permits from Jasareno instead.

The operation of CMDC was suspended in 2012 for environmental violations but it managed to sell shiploads of ore for “environmental” reasons.

 Environmental risk

Months after suspending CMDC in 2012, then MGB Director Jasareno allowed CMDC to sell four shiploads of low-grade ore supposedly obtained from “wastes” generated by the company’s rehabilitation activities.

In June, days before President Duterte was sworn into office, Jasareno again granted CMDC three transport and export permits because the ore stockpile presented environmental risks.

This prompted environment activists to ask whether Pichay’s company had an endless supply of ore classified as waste.

CMDC earned P174 million from four shipments in 2012, while the shipload that the company managed to sell in June this year turned in over P20 million, records from MGB Caraga showed.

“In 2012 they (MGB) said the wastes needed to be shipped out because of environmental risks,” said Rev. Pio Mercado, Caraga Watch spokesperson.

“Four years later, they still have the same alibi, so we’re really wondering if this company has unlimited supply of wastes,” he said.

Mercado and Canda said Caraga Watch would file corruption cases against MGB and DENR officials at the Ombudsman as soon as they allow CMDC to continue selling ore.

“We are disappointed that, despite President Duterte’s marching order against irresponsible mining and corruption, there are still elements within MGB and DENR who don’t get the message,” Canda said.

The group also called on Lopez to review the rehabilitation program of CMDC and determine its real ownership before issuing any permit to the firm.

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It said the latest set of owners, led by Pichay, is only one of three factions fighting for control of CMDC.

TAGS: Bayan Muna, Environmental Laws, MGB, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, mining, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte

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