SC orders dismissal of MMC, Basiana’s overlapping claims over Asiga’s mining claim
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the dismissal of the two decade-old mining claims of Manila Mining Corporation (MMC) and Basiana Mining Exploration Corporation which overlap with the much older claim of Asiga Mining Corporation in Agusan del Norte.
In a recent 14-page decision, the SC 2nd Division reinstated the December 24, 1998 decision of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Caraga regional office’s panel of arbitrators in favor of Asiga.
The SC reversed the July 31, 2007 and May 12, 2011 decisions of the Mines Adjudication Board (MAB) and the Court of Appeals (CA) in favor of MMC and Basiana.
MMC and Basiana claimed Asiga was deemed to have abandoned its mining claim, first granted in 1936, because it failed to file an affidavit of annual work obligation (AAWO) as proof of its mining performance for two consecutive years.
However, the SC said the basis of the declaration of abandonment is not the failure to file the AAWOs, but the actual noncompliance with the obligation.
It noted that President Decree Number 1902, the latest version of the Mineral Resources Development Decree, changed the title of the abandonment provision to “Annual Work Obligations,” from the previous wording “Proof of Annual Work Obligations.”
“The latest version indicates there is focus on the annual work obligations imposed upon claim owners or lessees, and not merely on the submission of proof to this requirement,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Andres Reyes, Jr.
The decision added that if there was indeed abandonment of the claims, these would be cancelled “upon observance of due process” under the presidential decree. The requirements include a written notice to Asiga.
The SC decision meant 1,661 hectares of MMC’s mining claim and 214 hectares of Basiana’s would have to be excluded from their respective Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) for overlapping with Asiga’s “valid and existing mining claims.”