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LP finance chief in trouble over nickel shipment

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has asked the Bureau of Customs to look into the possible undervaluation of a shipment of nickel ore to China by Eric Gutierrez of S.R. Metals Inc., who is also the treasurer of the opposition Liberal Party.

Citing a complaint forwarded to DENR by Rodney O. Basiana of Basiana Mining Exploration Corp., Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh said the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) “must look into the tax liabilities of SRMI and its affiliates for failing to pay or remit to BIR the tax due from the 5 percent of the gross proceeds amounting to millions of pesos.”

“SRMI began its operations in 2006 as a swindle—I had been hoodwinked,” Basiana said in a letter to then DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. “The government, the DENR, in particular, had been duped. SRMI used the documents of BMEC under which Tubay Exploration was assigned to go into operations in the guise of small-scale mining, with a 50,000-ton limit on yearly ore extract.”

“SRMI used a copy of the official receipt for P5,520 that BMEC paid for in its application for a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement [MPSAI] in 1997 with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR,” the letter also said.

It further stated that small-scale mining operation in just one year beginning 2006 had sold P2.8 billion—and exceeded the yearly 50,000-ton limit many times over.

Within a decade, it also noted, SRMI had realized over P28 billion in revenues from nickel ore shipments to China, as records of the Philippine Ports Authority show.

SRMI is led by Liberal Party financier and treasurer Patrick Angelo “Eric” Gutierrez and LP spokesman Rep. Edgar R. Erice of Caloocan City.

DENR said SRMI had been found by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to have exceeded the 50,000-ton allowed annual volume for a small-scale miner and consequently, then-DENR Secretary Angelo T. Reyes issued a cease and desist order against SRMI.

People’s groups and non-government organizations have sued the firm over its pernicious practices that has tainted with toxic pollutants the bodies of water flowing through Agusan del Norte, including adjacent fishing grounds and farmlands, the letter said. SRMI’s contribution to the local economy was nil, and worse, caused the loss of livelihood of both farmers and fishers.

Earlier, Basiana filed charges of falsification against Erice, Gutierrez, his sons John Anthony Gutierrez, Miguel Alberto Gutierrez, Alejandro Basalio and Antonio Dimabayu, before the Surigao City Prosecutors’ Office.

Basiana accused the respondents, who were officers and members of the board of SMRI in 2005, of making it appear that their corporation was the holder of mining claims over an 81-hectare area in Tubay, Agusan Del Norte when it was Basiana’s company, Basiana Mining Exploration Corp. which held such rights.

He said BMEC has a small-scale mining application as MPSA No. (XIII)-00014 for Tubay dated July 31, 1997 for which it paid the corresponding application fee of P5,520 under official receipt no. 2817891 also dated July 31, 1997.

On Aug. 7, 2000, BMEC assigned its rights over its mining application to Manila Mining Corp. with the express provision that notwithstanding the agreement, it remained the real and true owner of the application and that it can revoke agreement anytime.

On Oct. 15, 2005, BMEC exercised its rights to revoke its deed of assignment to MMC. On Oct. 18, 2005, BMEC executed a deed of assignment over its mining application in favor of SRMI which was then headed by Erice and Eric Gutierrez.

Under the same agreement, SRMI confirmed and recognized Basiana’s beneficial ownership of the mining claims and granted him five percent of the gross proceeds of the sales of the mining yields as may be extracted.

As a result, SRMI was granted the permit and began mining operations in Brgys. La Fraternidad, Binuangan, and Sta. Ana in Tubay, Agusan Del Norte--reneged on its obligation to remit the 5 percent to Basiana.

Topics: Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Bureau of Customs , Eric Gutierrez , S.R. Metals Inc. , Liberal Party
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