Press Release
September 23, 2015


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the government should impose stronger penalties and stiffer fines on unscrupulous mining companies who violate the country's mining laws, ultimately making it unprofitable for violators to operate here.

Escudero, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, directed the Mines and GeoSciences Bureau (MGB) to immediately submit to the committee the agencies table and schedule of penalties to determine if they were commensurate to the type of violations for which they are collected.

He said penalties should be tough enough to become a preventive measure against the violation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

"We want to find out how we value the sanctity of our laws. We want to know who is responsible for deciding how much penalty should be imposed. We want not only stronger teeth but also additional claws for our mining penalties so that violators would not even think of doing so," Escudero said.

The issue on penalizing violators of the mining law surfaced as the committee took up the issue of SR Metals Inc. and its subsidiaries San R Mining and Galeo Equipment and Mining Corp., which were found to have extracted more minerals than they were allowed to do so.

The companies mined 177,000 metric tons of nickel and cobalt in Agusan Del Norte from 2006 to 2007, exceeding their allowed combined annual volume of 150,000 metric tons.

During the hearing, SR Metals, which is supposedly operating as a small-scale miner based on its permit, admitted that from 2006 to 2008, it extracted a total of 1.7 million metric tons of minerals.

SR Metals was fined P7 million for over-extraction, a measly amount compared to the estimated P1.9 billion the company earned during the period.

"This is a flagrant joke on our statutes. The amount of penalty this company paid is just a speck of dust compared to how much they have earned through gross violations of our mining laws. And to think they don't even have the permit to operate as large-scale miners," Escudero said.

"Clearly, there is loophole in our laws and this is what we are trying to find out to correct," he said.

The senator said case of SR Metals underscores the need to review the Philippines' mining policies and whether these are being strictly implemented by the MGB.

"Penalties should be painful. We should make it unprofitable for anyone to violate our laws. Kung gagawin mo iyan, dapat hindi ka kumita; kung gagawin mo iyan, dapat lugi ka, para iyong economic discouragement natin ay maliwanag ang mensahe sa kanila, hindi tulad ngayon kahit araw-araw gagawin nila yun, kikita pa rin sila," Escudero said.

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