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Agriculture and Mining

Miners to file case vs DENR over amended IRR of EO 79

September 30, 2012 5:01pm
Miners are planning to bring to court the issue of constitutionality of several provisions that flesh out the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Executive Order 79 should Environment Secretary Ramon Paje decide to sign the amended IRR on Monday, a mining official said over the weekend.

Philex Mining senior vice president for communications Mike Toledo said that the miners will exercise their constitutional right to question the law.

“The next step is to continue to question the IRR on legal grounds. There remain a lot of legal and constitutional issues that were not addressed in the IRR. It could be in the form of declaratory relief or simply questioning its constitutionality,” said Toledo.

The Philex spokesperson said that the controversial issues are embodied in the policy's Sections 3, 7 and 9, though all of these had been amended from the first version of the IRR.

Toledo added that the case may be filed by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, a mining company or a private individual that has interest in mining.

“More than the [mining] contracts, it is good governance that we’re also concerned about,” he said.

The Department suspended the implementation of the first IRR “pending the issuance and effectivity of the amendments.”

The new IRR was revised to accommodate proposals from the mining community. Among other things, the government has agreed to do away with the ambiguity of Section 9 that initially, under the first IRR, called for the renewal of mining contracts through a public bidding.

Under the new IRR, the second tenure of 25 years may be awarded subject to existing laws, rules, and regulations at the time of renewal.

The Minerals Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has also agreed to revise Sections 3 and 7, approving the inclusion of "expired mining tenements" under Section 3.

Section 3 was also revised to include the definition of "expired mining tenements" as contracts whose 25- or 50-year term have lapsed.

"Provided, that in the case of the initial 25-year term, the mining contract/agreement shall be considered expired if the parties concerned fail to agree on the terms of the renewal...," said Section 7, which declares that no new mineral agreements will be granted until a new law rationalizing revenue-sharing schemes has been approved, was also revised to stress that the expansion of existing contracts is also subject to existing laws. — BM, GMA News
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