KM. 88, CLAVER, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/31 May) – A Chinese-owned mining company here has been ordered by the court to temporarily cease operations after a local mining partner complained the Chinese have not been paying their obligations.
Regional Trial Court Branch 30 Acting Presiding Judge Emmanuel E. Escatron granted Claver Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC) a writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction against Shen Zhou Mining Group Corporation (SMGC) last May 25.
The order has actually reversed an earlier decision issued by RTC Branch 29 Presiding Judge Victor Canoy denying CMDC’s December 13 petition for a writ of preliminary injunction principally for the reason that the Chinese company failed to honor its obligations to CMDC.
CMDC is the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) holder of the mining claim area totaling 433.98 hectares which is now operated by Shen Zhou.
Ireneo L. Cezar, a CMDC representative, said SMGC and the Chinese owners are “balasubas,” a vernacular term for persons who fail to pay financial obligations or “deadbeat.”
Cezar, who is one of the claimants to the mining area operated by Shen Zhou, admitted that he was part of the group that negotiated with the Chinese investors in Metro Manila sometime in 2009 and 2010 that eventually led to the operating agreement with SMGC and CMDC.
Based on the agreement, SMGC is supposed to pay CMDC five percent of the gross sales of all ores sold from the mineral property. Cezar said they even agreed to “loosen” the agreement and agreed to collect only after its 25th shipment.
Shen Zhou officials when contacted through cellphone did not reply to queries.
RTC Branch 30 Sheriff Carlin Appillanes said his team personally hand-delivered the court order on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the mine site but company officials and security guards declined to receive the order.
But he said despite the refusal of the guards to pen their signatures to the order, this is immaterial since it was a “personal delivery” undertaken by the sheriff.
A company watchman on duty identified as Michael Onorio told local media there are no company officials available for interview except Chinese executives who Onorio said cannot be interviewed because they cannot speak the local tongue.
“We do have supervisors but they are all in the field. We were also instructed not to grant interviews,” the watchman said in the vernacular.
CMDC, Cezar said, received a P5 million “signing agreement” thus the leeway to collect only after the 25th shipment.
But Shen Zhou it seemed has been deaf and indifferent to their demands, Cesar claimed.
“But still they did not pay us even though it is in our agreement that they will start paying after the 25th shipment. Furthermore, it’s them who will supply us the documents detailing their sales,” he said.
The company was constrained to request from the Bureau of Customs the deliveries made by the mining firm, the court order said.
Shen Zhou, as per court documents, offered to pay CMDC its unpaid royalty fees but according to Cezar even if they will be paid, they will not renew their operating agreement with the mining company. “No, we’re not renewing. It’s not easy dealing with them. They’re deadbeats,” Cezar lamented.
He said CMDC is going to collect at least P50 million in royalty fees from Shen Zhou since it started operating in 2010.
Last May 2, Mamanwas barricaded the mine site of SMGC for its apparent failure to pay the one percent royalty fee due them. The Mamanwas, led by Datu Renante Buklas and Datu Alicio Patac, also filed a separate case at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) against the Chinese mining firm and called for the cancellation of its free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
The NCIP in an en banc resolution issued a cease and desist order against Shen Zhou last January 12. But until today, the decision is yet to be enforced. NCIP officials in Surigao del Norte said earlier that Shen Zhou also filed a motion for reconsideration at the Court of Appeals, thus they are still awaiting for the final decision before a move will be made.
Shen Zhou corporate communications manager Jacqueline de Leon earlier said they can only follow the said order if a “writ of execution” is already issued.
Cezar alleged the ongoing rift between the Chinese-owned Shen Zhou mining and CMDC and the indigenous people of Claver is a national issue likened to the ongoing rift between the national government and the People’s Republic of China in the Scarborough Shoal off in Palawan.
He said what is ironic here is that the Chinese are apparently being protected because the government has not done anything to act on the alleged violations committed by the Chinese mining firm.
“We’re like the Mamanwas being exploited by the Chinese. If Filipinos commit crimes in China, they are meted out death penalty. But nothing seems happening in our case here when it’s the Chinese committing crimes,” lamented Cezar.
But he is hopeful that the recent court decision will be upheld. (Vanessa L. Almeda / MindaNews)