Zambales town mayor gets jail term for blocking mining operations
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandigan has convicted Mayor Luisito Marty of Sta Cruz, Zambales, of graft and usurpation of legislative powers for blocking the operations of two licensed mining firms in his municipality.
The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division sentenced Marty to a minimum of 6 years, 5 months, and 21 days in jail.
In its 42-page decision issued on February 15, the court said Marty had no authority to stop the operations of Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation (ZDMC) and the Zambales Chromite Mining Company (ZCMC) since they had secured licenses from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Court records showed that ZDMC and ZCMC, which filed the complaint against the mayor, could not get their business permits because of a memorandum issued by Marty that required them to first secure a mayor’s permit before they can pay their occupation fees to the municipal treasurer.
The court ruled that Marty “acted with evident bad faith when he issued the memorandum directing the municipal treasurer not to accept payment of occupation fees by the mining firms.”
“In sum, the Court holds that accused Marty’s unilateral issuance of a mere memorandum, which effectively prevented the ZDMC and ZCMC from paying their occupation fees, and his inaction on the business permit application…without any sufficient legal basis and/or justification unquestionably manifest evident bad faith on his part,” the court said.
The court noted that the two mining firms had secured valid mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) from the national government, and that a business permit was not even required for companies to operate under Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
The court also said that in previous years, the municipality accepted occupation fee payments from ZDMC without demanding the submission of additional requirements. – Rappler.com