LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners (BFSSM) petitioned the Regional trial Court (RTC) of Benguet to issue the required temporary restraining order (TRO) and the subsequent writ of preliminary injunction enjoining Environment Secretary Ramon Paje from enforcing at least five Sections of Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2015-03 revising the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act (RA) 6065 or the Peoples Small-Scale Ming Act of 1991 considering that they are baseless, confiscatory and oppressive to the pocket mining industry.
In a 20page petition, the group headed by Engr. Lomino N. Kaniteng argued should the assailed provisions of the revised implementing rules and regulations be implemented, it is not only the livelihood of the small-scale miners which would be significantly affected and placed at a stake, but likewise with their liberty.
Kaniteng pointed out in the assailed revised implementing rules and regulations, it provides a penal provision, thus, if a small-scale miner could not afford to pay the excessive application fees as prescribed for the issuance of a small-scale mining contract pursuant to Section 10b or the required fees for a mineral processor’s license in accordance with Section 16, then a small pocket miner would be at a risk of being arrested and be criminally charged for violating the law.
“The same holds through if a small pocket miner could not comply with the stringent requirements prescribed by the assailed revised implementing rules and regulations,” Kaniteng stressed.
Further, he emphasized with the stringent documentary requirements prescribed in the unreasonable, excessive and exorbitant fees and charges imposed to small-scale miners in exercising their trade as required by Sections 10B and 16 of the revised implementing rules and regulations, the small pocket miners will be left without recourse but to stop their trade which is their main source of livelihood.
With this, he cited the families of the thousands of small-scale miners would be again in starvation, claiming that most, if not all, of the pocket miners are less fortunate residents, especially in terms of education and employment.
In order to enjoin the impending damage to the pocket mining industry by the implementation of the revised implementing rules and regulations, Kaniteng asserted it is but proper for the court to issue the temporary restraining order and the subsequent writ of preliminary injunction to restraint the agency from implementing various sections of the assailed order.
According to the group, Secretary Paje will not suffer any damage from being enjoined from enforcing Sections 10, 13, 16, 21d and 21e of the revised implementing rules and regulations while the group and the over 25,000 small-scale miners will stand to starve as they will be deprived of their means of livelihood while their rights under the law is grossly trampled upon.
Kaniteng explained the questioned Sections of the revised implementing rules and regulations are repugnant, contrary and repulsive not only to RA 7076 but likewise, against the 1987 Philippine Constitution, saying that the same is ultra vires and was issued beyond the limits of the authority of the Environment Secretary, thus, there is a necessity to have the foregoing provisions be stricken down, they being unlawful and unconstitutional.
Aside from exorbitant fees being charged by the agency for pocket mining applications among others, Kaniteng cited limiting the period of operation of small-scale mining groups to a maximum period of six years is also considered highly irregular and would deprive the pocket miners their sustainable source of livelihood.
The group believes that Secretary Paje exceeded his authority when he promulgated Sections 10, 13, 16, 21d and 21e of DENR Administrative Order 2015-03 which is the revised implementing rules and regulations of RA 7076.
The petitioner of the petition for declaratory relief is a federation of small-scale miners in the province and it duly organized and registered in accordance with Philippine laws.
By Dexter A. See