Duterte, CA told: Beware of politicians,’ gov’t execs’ ties to mining
MANILA — In the raging debate on the mining industry, an anti-mining group has urged President Duterte and the Commission on Appointments (CA) to keep an eye on politicians with possible “conflicts of interest.”
In a press conference, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) presented the political links of several mining firms with mining deals suspended by known anti-mining advocate Environment Secretary Gina Lopez last February 14, allegedly due to their mining operations in watersheds.
Ten of the mining firms served with show-cause orders are linked to influential businessmen and politicians, according to the ATM. “We surmise that these are the same powers that are blocking our reform initiatives” in the mining industry, including Lopez’ confirmation as Cabinet secretary, said ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera.
Chief of the ATM’s findings were Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez’ links to Alsons, for which he served as director from 1995 to 2016. Alsons owns stocks in holding company and mining contractor Indophil Resources, now involved in the suspended Tampakan Mining Project, according to the ATM. Alsons is still chaired by Dominguez’s brother Paul Dominguez.
The ATM also took note of the mining links of Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, and committee on agriculture. Prime Asset Ventures Inc., parent company of Kingking Mining Corp. and TVI Resources Develpment Phils. Inc., is owned by Villar’s son, Manuel Paolo Villar, according to ATM. Social Security Commissioner Michael Regino also sits in the TVI board, the ATM has said.
1-Pacman partylist Rep. Michael Romero, meanwhile, is chair and president of 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining, according to the ATM.
Garganera urged Duterte, the final arbiter on Lopez’ earlier order to close 23 mining firms, and the Commission on Appointments, which would decide on Lopez’ confirmation, to consider the “beneficial ownership” of these mining firms, and beyond government officials’ disavowals of direct ownership, such as Dominguez’ divesting from Alsons.
“This is just a corporate veil,” Garganera pointed out. “These real owners are hiding their interests in the company. But if your family members have interests in that firm, so do you …We don’t believe that you don’t benefit from a company your family owns,” Garganera said, in Filipino.
“That could be indirect benefits, like when your campaign contribution was coursed through those individuals, or they lent you use of their helicopters,” Garganera noted.
“It is this ‘beneficial ownership,’ which is not shown in government documents, which should be pinned down,” Garganera said. “They should be held accountable for that. In the meantime, that is also conflict of interest,” he added.
“We hope that Secretary [Gina] Lopez and President Duterte will continue to champion the interests of the poor against the interests of the elite,” Garganera said. SFM
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