Ugly fight

Gov’s allies want ‘kalabasa’ award for DENR’s Atienza

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–A provincial board member here on Wednesday filed a resolution awarding the “kalabasa” (squash) award to Environment Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza, for “mishandling” the
controversy between the provincial government and a foreign mining firm operating here.

Board member Efren Quiben said Atienza deserves the award for favoring and defending OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., an Australian firm, and “betraying” the local government code which empowers provinces to collect quarry taxes.

squash

The province is trying to collect about P30 million in sand and gravel taxes and income from licenses from firms operating at OceanaGold’s US$117-million Didipio gold-copper project in upland Kasibu town. Atienza, however, said the company’s quarrying activities cannot be taxed.

“Secretary Atienza used to perform well as mayor of a premier city of the country. It is sad to note that when he became head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, he seems to have forgotten the provisions of the local government code,” he said.

Holding a squash while delivering his speech in Wednesday’s session of the provincial board, Quiben explained that the “kalabasa” award was being given to Atienza for “doing a poor job” in upholding the welfare of local governments.

Sought for comment, Atienza laughed off the supposed award.

“We are staying on track following the rule of law. If there is someone who is supposed to receive a ‘kalabasa‘ here, it’s not me, but the one who does not know the law,” he said, without elaborating.

Challenge

Board Member Edgardo Balgos reminded Atienza about his promise during his visit to the province in October last year that he will uphold the right of local governments to receive benefits due to them from the
operations of large-scale mining projects.

He said the national government should not deprive the local government of its right to collect quarry taxes, being its only source of revenue from mining operations.

“You vowed to go to jail if you are challenged by foreign mining companies who refuse to pay taxes to local governments. Now, OceanaGold is challenging you,” he added.

Atienza drew the ire of provincial officials here after he was quoted in media reports last week as supposedly saying that Gov. Luisa Cuaresma “should come to her senses” after issuing a cease-and-desist order (CDO)
against the operations of OceanaGold and its sub-contractor, Delta Earthmoving Corp.

Both Quiben and Balgos are Cuaresma’s staunch allies.

In an interview, Atienza, however, maintained his stand that province cannot collect quarry taxes from OceanaGold, as it was exempt from such obligations under the financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) that the Philippine government entered into with the company.

“My latest action here is to direct OceanaGold to proceed. We are consistent, staying on track following the rule of law,” he said.

Capricious

On May 6, Cuaresma and about 50 officials and employees of the province trooped to Didipio to stop what to them were illegal quarrying operations. They have camped out at the site since, preventing every movement of OceanaGold’s heavy equipment.

The DENR chief expressed surprise that after Cuaresma has shown support to the project for the past several years, she now “capriciously decides to tax it”.

“She’s on the wrong track,” Atienza said.

He also had this piece of advise for the board members: “I would strongly suggest that the board members ask their lawyers. We should not be ruled by emotions, by personal orientations, but by the rule of
law.”

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16 thoughts on “Ugly fight

  1. kudos to the provincial gov”t of nvizcaya for their undying love of its constituents. In upholding the provisions and spirit of the local gov’t code, taxes derived from the quarry to Oceanna Gold will be put into more development projects for the province.

  2. atienza is a politician and he’s a very good one. don’t bother too much why he forgot about local government code. he’s just doing his work as a politician. being department head is just a sideline

  3. kudos to the zealousness of the local press club members for giving due importance to the local governments fight against abusive foreign investors. Oceana should pack up and leave now, they are creating divisiveness among indigenous peoples in the area. What the provincial gov’t. is legally asking is just a pittance compared to the billions of pesos this king-like foreign firm will be milking from the province aside from the environmental disaster it will cause to the entire region. Gov. Cuaresma’s crusade against mining firms is not only the fight of Novo Vizcayanos but all LGU’s. Enough of imperial Manila’s intervention over local government units.

  4. may i ask why the bishop is silent about the Didipio (mining) situation? i hope thatmoney is not wriggling its ugly head again. He used to be very vocal against the mining operation.

  5. Weird. “Michael Campos” and “Roger Santiago” too share the same IP address: 124.217.71.111

    >> “kudos to the zealousness of the local press club members for giving due importance to the local governments fight against abusive foreign investors.”

    It depends on which “local press club members” you are referring to, because sadly, the “zealousness” of some is for a different reason. 😀

    My take on the provincial government’s “crusade”: it’s all about “money..money..and more money”.

  6. well done melvin you got it right so keep it up and get some fairness from your side as well as the naughty mining company who has upset some of the locals money money money is really the issue

  7. beloved porgi one as you know the philippine government was elected by the people for the people thats democracy!! and beloved porgi one it is in partnership with oceanagold, so saying that your elected philippine government is looking after the whole of the philippines not just you and your mates who want more money , now porgi how is the nueva vizcaya government going to pay for their nice new buses? we live in interesting times beloved mel baby

  8. hey mel baby your beloved governor is breaking the law by stopping oceanagold from preparing its mine site , ( its a mine not a quarry) wake up sonny the national government is going to receive 30billion pesos in national taxes during the mines fifteen year operation on top of local revenues and several thousand jobs !! get real son,wake up!! its the twenty first century , you have one of the richest deposits of gold and copper in the world and you just want to look at it ?come now mel baby you are an inteligent and educated man so think about the big picture! benefits for all who want to work , and further mel baby if you dont like the goverment then vote them out thats called democracy !! ganyan ang buhay!!

  9. hey mel baby your beloved governor is breaking the law by stopping oceanagold from preparing its mine site , ( its a mine not a quarry)

    First, she’s not beloved to me. Second, I’m not sure if I will agree with you that she is breaking the law by stopping OceanaGold. It’s easy for anyone to say one is breaking the law but how can you find out what is illegal and what is not if you don’t seek court intervention? To my mind, you whining about the “illegal” act of the governor but not doing anything to stop this “illegal” thing is, to say the least, childish–a second one, maybe.

    wake up sonny the national government is going to receive 30billion pesos in national taxes during the mines fifteen year operation on top of local revenues and several thousand jobs !!

    OceanaGold refuses to pay the estimated P30 million pesos in local taxes. Whether it agrees with the tax imposition or not, there is such thing as “payment under protest”. So the least it could do, as a manifestation of good faith as a “responsible mining company” is to pay the tax, and contest it in the proper forum afterwards.

    Last time I checked, this is how OceanaGold was performing in the Australian Stock Exchange. Now, do you still expect me to believe that the national government will get its “P30 billion” share from the mining project?

    Get real, “Virgie”.

    get real son,wake up!! its the twenty first century , you have one of the richest deposits of gold and copper in the world and you just want to look at it ?

    I leave you, oh, my wise elder one, with one line to ponder upon: In this life, fulfillment is not all about material wealth.

  10. poor darling you really hate aussies never mind at least they live in a democratic society where if you are corrupt you go to jail and oceana gold is obeying the law, your provincial government is breaking the law end of story no matter how many flowery word you write , greed is not good but ask your provincial government’s money grabbing exercise whom are they going to help? does your provincial government have a program to create thousands of jobs ? na of course not

  11. Virgie, your emotions overwhelm you to a point you’re becoming incoherent and redundant.

    I don’t understand why you keep on saying I hate the Aussies. I love y’all, mate! 😀

  12. share prices go up and they go down its a good time to buy di ba and as you know oceanagold is cashed up dont tell fibbies mel honey

  13. I really appreciate the leaders of Nueva Vizcaya for their un ending support to us..KASIBUneans..
    I salute those who considers the “hinaing” of the people of Kasibu..
    I hope and pray that the mining here in our town be stop..

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