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DESPITE GROWTH SLOWDOWN: DEC REMITTANCES HIT RECORD, 2016 TALLY BREACHES TARGET
[RELATED: BSP keeping close watch on tax reform]


FEBRUARY 16 -PHOTO FROM BUSINESS WORLD ONLINE
BUSINESS MONEY sent home monthly by overseas Filipinos posted a new high in December – the Christmas season – bringing the total 2016 tally above the target set for the full year by the central bank. Personal remittances rose 3.6 percent to $2.82 billion in December from $2.72 billion a year earlier, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed on Wednesday. Although the increase for December slowed sharply from the 18.4 percent year-on-year rise in November, the nominal value of remittances in December reached a new record, the BSP said. The December 2016 remittances level broke the previous record high of $2.72 billion posted in the corresponding month in 2015. As a result, total personal remittances for 2016 rose 4.9 percent year-on-year to $29.7 billion, exceeding the projected growth rate of 4 percent by the BSP for the year. READ MORE...RELATED, BSP keeping close watch on tax reform...

ALSO: Peso closes at P50 vs $1, lowest since Nov. 2006
[RELATED: Peso 'relatively stable' despite recent weakness - Tetangco]


FEBRUARY 17 -The peso closed at P50 to the dollar on Friday, weakening to its lowest level in a decade, on strong corporate demand for the greenback. It was the local currency’s weakest close since Nov. 2006. Aside from high dollar demand, uncertainty over interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve weighed on the peso, Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said. “Still the same story of external market uncertainty,” Guinigundo said. Higher interest rates in the US could move funds out of emerging markets like the Philippines, driving demand for the dollar.READ MORE...RELATED, Peso 'relatively stable' despite recent weakness: Tetangco...

ALSO: Rody orders AMLC to probe his wealth after Trillanes' repeated claims of ' amassed P2 billion illegally'
[RELATED: Duterte on P2B bank deposit allegation - Pure garbage]


FEBRUARY 17 -MB File — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte urges the public to pay the right taxes in his speech during the Bureau of Internal Revenue-Large Taxpayers Service Tax Campaign Kick Off at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on February 6, 2017. (ALFRED FRIAS/Presidential Photo/ Manila Bulletin)
President Duterte on Friday night, February 17 said he has already ordered the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate his wealth following claims of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV that the Chief Executive has amassed P2 billion illegally. In a dinner with the class 1967 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) at the Baguio Country Club, Duterte said he has ordered the agency in order to clear the air because it is “a matter of principle also and honor.” “I’ve ordered AMLC and everybody to give information sa ano ang what’s my worth in this (on my worth), in terms of pesos in this planet so hindi ko kayo hiyain (so I won’t embarrass you),” he said. The AMLC is mandated to protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts and to ensure that the Philippines shall not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity. READ MORE...RELATED, Duterte on P2B bank deposit allegation: Pure garbage...

ALSO:
DENR CANCELS 75 MINERAL PRODUCTION SHARING AGREEMENTs (MPSAs) IN WATERSHEDS
[RELATED: FULL TEXT: Chamber of Mines statement on new MPSA cancellations]
[RELATED(2): Dominguez only protects DENR chief from legal retaliation - Panelo]


FEBRUARY 14 -Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, in a press briefing in Malacañan on Feb. 9, 2017, says her agency is gearing towards the establishment of "E3 zone" (ecological, economical, and educational) programs in areas where mining firms will be closed. King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo After closing and suspending 28 firms, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez continues her rampage against the mining industry as she ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) of sites that are within watershed areas. In a briefing Tuesday, Lopez announced that she is revoking 37 MPSAs in Mindanao, 27 in Luzon and 11 in the Visayas which are either under exploratory stages or for possible developments. "They were given MPSAs but after evaluation, we want to cancel it. Their MPSAs were given before my time and they are in watershed areas, how can I say yes? We can never benefit from those," Lopez said.  An MPSA is an agreement wherein the government shares in the production of the contractor, whether in kind or in value, as the owner of the minerals, and the contractor gets the rest. In return, the contractor provides the necessary financing, technology, management and personnel for the mining project. READ MORE...RELATED, FULL TEXT: Chamber of Mines statement on new MPSA cancellations...RELATED(2)  Dominguez only protects DENR chief from legal retaliation - Panelo...

ALSO: P2-B aid for mining communities – Andanar
[RELATED: Abella clarifies that Duterte while in Surigao vowed to release P2b for quake survivors]


FEBRUARY 14 -YES TO MINING Students from various colleges join a rally in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Quezon City to protest the closure of mines. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ
MALACAÑANG on Monday clarified that the P2 billion worth of assistance announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday was meant for communities affected by the closure of mining firms, not victims of the earthquake in Surigao City. In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he had consulted Duterte’s special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go on the correct interpretation of the President’s statements in Surigao, which were in Visayan. “Bong said, ‘I didn’t hear anything like that,’” Andanar told radio station dzRH. “I would like to clarify that. The President was saying that in the context of the mining. He said that if the mining operations are closed, people will lose their jobs,” he added. News organizations, including The Manila Times, reported Monday that Duterte had ordered the release of P2 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for earthquake victims. RELATED,
Abella clarifies that Duterte vowed to release P2b for quake survivors...

ALSO:
Mining and oil stocks lose 54% market value after DENR canceled MPSAs
[RELATED: Scrapped mining contracts seen to affect taxpayers]


FEBRUARY 17 -The 17-stock Mining and Oil index lost P277.56 million of market value, days after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) canceled 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) on Tuesday. Data from the Philippine Stock Exchange showed the sectoral value of mining and oil shares plummeted by 54.03 percent to P236,134,758 as of Thursday, February 16 from P513,699,133 on Tuesday, February 14, the day Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez announced the cancellation of mining contracts covering operations in watershed areas. "After the announcement their share prices dropped significantly. So when prices drop, their value also drops," Manny Cruz, chief equity strategist at Asiasec Equities Inc., told GMA News Online on Friday. .RELATED. Scrapped mining contracts seen to affect taxpayers...


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DESPITE GROWTH SLOWDOWN: Dec remittances hit record, 2016 tally breaches target


PHOTO FROM BUSINESS WORLD ONLINE

MANILA, FEBRUARY 20, 2017 (MANILA TIMES) BY MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT ON FEBRUARY 16, 2017 BUSINESS MONEY sent home monthly by overseas Filipinos posted a new high in December – the Christmas season – bringing the total 2016 tally above the target set for the full year by the central bank.

Personal remittances rose 3.6 percent to $2.82 billion in December from $2.72 billion a year earlier, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed on Wednesday.

Although the increase for December slowed sharply from the 18.4 percent year-on-year rise in November, the nominal value of remittances in December reached a new record, the BSP said.

The December 2016 remittances level broke the previous record high of $2.72 billion posted in the corresponding month in 2015.

As a result, total personal remittances for 2016 rose 4.9 percent year-on-year to $29.7 billion, exceeding the projected growth rate of 4 percent by the BSP for the year.

READ MORE...

The increase in December remittances came largely from land-based Filipino workers overseas. Growth in cash remittances from the Middle East, Asia and the Americas offset the decline recorded in Europe.

“Growth in personal remittances was steered by the 7.6 percent expansion in remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more, which totaled $23.2 billion. This made up for the 3.7 percent decline in remittances from sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year to reach $6.1 billion,” the BSP explained.

A private analyst said remittances in December reflect the holiday season – a time when Filipinos abroad send more money for their families in the Philippines.

“This period covers the fourth quarter [of 2016]and the year-end holidays, which are traditionally a ‘remittance’ and ‘homecoming’ season for OFWs,” Justino Calaycay Jr., marketing and research head at A&A Securities Inc., said.

Cash remittances

Cash remittances coursed through banks totaled $2.55 billion in December, up 3.6 percent from $2.47 billion in December 2015. In November, cash remittances totaled $2.21 billion.

Full-year 2016 cash remittances posted growth of 5 percent to reach $26.9 billion, up from $25.6 billion a year earlier.

The BSP said the increase in 2016 cash remittances was driven by the $21.3 billion transfers from land-based workers, which grew by 7.6 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, sea-based workers remittances dropped by 3.8 percent to $5.6 billion.

“This may have been due partly to stiffer competition in the supply of seafarers, particularly from East Asia and Eastern Europe,” the BSP report said.

The BSP added that cash remittances in 2016 rose also on the back of improving global economic conditions.

Remittances from the Middle East grew 12.7 percent, boosted by higher remittances from Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Remittances from Asia rose 7.4 percent, buoyed by transfers originating from Singapore, Japan, China, and Taiwan. For the Americas, which increased by 3.8 percent, the major contributor was the 6.2 percent rise in remittances from the US.

Meanwhile, remittances from Europe fell by 8.4 percent, owing to the decline in cash transfers from the United Kingdom (UK)–partly due to the depreciation of the pound sterling vis-a-vis the US dollar —Italy and the Netherlands.

By country source, more than 80 percent of the total remittances came from the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Singapore, UK, Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong, and Germany, the BSP said.

“The solid growth in OF remittances continues to be a major driver of domestic demand. In 2016, personal remittances represented 8.1 percent of the country’s gross national income (GNI) and 9.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP),” it added.

Moderate growth seen

Joey Cuyegkeng, senior economist for ING Bank Manila, said uncertainty over the possible effects of the trade, immigration and jobs policies of the new US administration may keep OFW remittances growth at a moderate pace of 4 percent this year, or slower than the 4.9 percent and 5 percent growth in personal and cash remittances in 2016.

“Such [US] policies may generate downside risks,” he warned.

Nevertheless, Cuyegkeng added, the health of host economies is likely to improve but the improvement may be seen later in the year or in 2018.

“Oil prices have increased from the lows of early 2016 and are likely to rise by about 20 percent to 25 percent year-on-year,” he explained.

Given this, he said growth in developed markets is expected to be mild or show a gradual improvement.

---------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

BSP keeping close watch on tax reform By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 17, 2017 - 12:00am 2 0 googleplus0 0


In this April 25, 2016 photo, Outgoing Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima will pass on to his successor Carlos Dominguez III a set of tax reform recommendations that are estimated to generate P164.5 billion to P351 billion in revenues for the first year of implementation. RAPPLER.COM

MANILA, Philippines - Monetary authorities are closely watching the developments in the complete overhaul of the country’s tax program being pushed by the Duterte administration particularly its impact on consumer prices.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said authorities are watching out for the final form of the tax reform that would be approved by Congress.

“We will have to determine the impact of such changes in fiscal policy on the inflation path going forward, keeping in mind the need to distinguish the short term impact versus the longer term effects,” he said.

The Department of Finance (DOF) is pushing the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) which is crucial to the financial viability of the Duterte administration’s higher public spending policy.

The tax overhaul, the finance department explained, aims to correct our tax system’s “inherent flaws, such as non-indexation to inflation of rates and large scope of exemptions and special treatments that complicates tax administration” that have for long prevented the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs from consistently meeting, much less surpassing, their annual revenue targets.

The government committed to ramp up infrastructure spending to seven percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2022 from the projected 5.4 percent this year.

The CTRP involving the lowering of personal income tax rates, the broadening of the value added tax (VAT) base, and increasing the excise tax on oil products would yield a net gain of P41.5 billion in the second half of the year.

Tetangco said the US Federal Reserve has been consistent in stating that authorities are poised to raise rates and reduce accommodation.

“The timing and magnitude, however, are what remain undetermined at this point,” he commented on the statement made by US Fed chair Janet Yellen.

“The Fed chair also flagged the need to discern the impact of the new fiscal policies of the Trump admin. The latter is not unlike our concern in the Philippines – we are watching out for the final form of the tax reform that will be approved by Congress,” Tetangco said.

Last Feb. 9, the BSP raised the inflation forecast to 3.5 percent instead of 3.3 percent for this year and to 3.1 percent instead of three percent for 2018.

Authorities took into consideration higher oil prices, the depreciation of the peso against the US dollar in the fourth quarter, the minimum wage adjustment in June as well as the firm domestic demand.


ABS-CBN

Peso closes at P50 vs $1, lowest since Nov. 2006 ABS-CBN News Posted at Feb 17 2017 05:59 PM

MANILA – The peso closed at P50 to the dollar on Friday, weakening to its lowest level in a decade, on strong corporate demand for the greenback.

It was the local currency’s weakest close since Nov. 2006. Aside from high dollar demand, uncertainty over interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve weighed on the peso, Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said.

“Still the same story of external market uncertainty,” Guinigundo said.

Higher interest rates in the US could move funds out of emerging markets like the Philippines, driving demand for the dollar.

READ MORE...

Fed Chair Janet Yellen this week signaled a faster tightening pace, with the market upgrading its expectations to three rate hikes this year instead of two.

Bangko Sentral could raise interest rates as early as next month, following the Fed’s lead, DBS Bank said.

The dollar headed for a second day of losses on Thursday, falling against the euro, yen and the basket of currencies that measures its broader strength, after hitting its highest in a month a day earlier.

Analysts pointed to a mixture of unexpected drops in US industrial output on Wednesday and a retreat by US treasury yields from recent highs as possible drivers of the dollar fall, while markets weigh the likelihood of an early rate increase.

The dollar index was down 0.4 percent, falling to 100.81 from a peak of 101.76 hit on Wednesday after the better-than-expected US inflation numbers and retail sales data.

Traders price in a 31 percent chance of a rate increase at the Fed's March meeting, up from 13 percent on Monday, according to the CME Group's FedWatch Tool. -- with reports from Reuters

Read More: Peso-dollar exchange rate currency economy

-----------------------------------

RELATED FROM ABS-CBN

Peso 'relatively stable' despite recent weakness: Tetangco Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News Posted at Jan 20 2017 02:01 PM


Philippine central bank Governor Amando Tetangco gestures during an interview with Reuters at the central bank headquarters in Manila, Philippines, January 11, 2017. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA – The peso will be “relatively stable” in the near term, despite weakening to P50 against the dollar, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco said Friday.

While the central bank leaves the exchange rate to market forces, Tetangco said the BSP “reserve(s) scope for possible participation in the forex market to avoid sharp fluctuations that can be destabilizing.”

“We try to minimize volatility but we do not go against the fundamental trend. We allow the peso to appreciate or depreciate, but we want to see an orderly adjustment,” Tetangco told ANC’s “The Boss.”

The peso briefly touched the psychological P50 to the dollar level on Thursday, for the second time in a month, due to hawkish statements from Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen and lingering uncertainty over US President-elect Donald Trump’s policies.

The local currency rebounded on Friday. It averaged P49.907 in early trading from Thursday’s close of P49.98.

Tetangco said the peso’s weakness was “in the middle of the pack” compared to other currencies in Asia.

“We’re not the most appreciated or the least appreciated. We’re not the most volatile. We’re in the middle,” he said.

Read More: peso-dollar exchange rate | Amando Tetangco | currency | economy


MANILA BULLETIN

Duterte orders AMLC to investigate his wealth  Published February 17, 2017, 9:36 PM By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos


MB File — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte urges the public to pay the right taxes in his speech during the Bureau of Internal Revenue-Large Taxpayers Service Tax Campaign Kick Off at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on February 6, 2017. (ALFRED FRIAS/Presidential Photo/ Manila Bulletin)

President Duterte on Friday night, February 17 said he has already ordered the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate his wealth following claims of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV that the Chief Executive has amassed P2 billion illegally.

In a dinner with the class 1967 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) at the Baguio Country Club, Duterte said he has ordered the agency in order to clear the air because it is “a matter of principle also and honor.”

“I’ve ordered AMLC and everybody to give information sa ano ang what’s my worth in this (on my worth), in terms of pesos in this planet so hindi ko kayo hiyain (so I won’t embarrass you),” he said.

The AMLC is mandated to protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts and to ensure that the Philippines shall not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity.

It also extends cooperation in transnational investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in money laundering activities wherever committed.

READ MORE...

Duterte, an adopted member of the PMA class of 1967, reiterated that he will resign as president immediately if he or any of his family members are proven to have been involved in corruption.

He also added that since assuming office, he has not signed any voucher for himself and only receives his salary. He added that he also does not accept his allowances and will keep on doing so until the end of his term.

Duterte said he has to set an example because there have been so many people who have endured corruption all throughout the years.

“I would hit hard against corruption so I must set the example because if I don’t, I cannot demand obedience. I would not like to be a person who is into the blame game,” he said.

“But at least during my time, there will be a respite for the people and corruption will really be controlled or stopped. ‘Yan ang masiguro ninyo (That, I can assure you),” he added.

On Thursday, Trillanes revived his previous allegations that Duterte has undeclared wealth that reached P2.4 billion from 2006 to 2015. He first brought up the issue just days before the May, 2016 elections.

“Kaya gusto ko lang sabihin sa inyo (What I want to tell you is), it’s politics again. It’s a rehash, of what they…it’s pure garbage,” he said.

------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Duterte on P2B bank deposit allegation: Pure garbage (philstar.com) | Updated February 18, 2017 - 5:17pm 4 66 googleplus0 0


President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the Philippine Military Academy alumni homecoming on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. Philstar.com/Artemio Dumlao

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines (Philippines News Agency) - President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed as “pure garbage” the recent allegations against him, saying he has already ordered the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to make public his net worth.

In a speech before the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1967 of which he is an honorary member, the chief executive described the issue as a matter of principle and honor for him.

He reiterated his campaign pledge that should any of his family members or he himself be involved in corruption in government, he will resign immediately from office. He also gave his word that he would not bring shame to PMA Class of 1967.

"Kaya ang gusto ko lang sabihin sa inyo, it’s politics again. It’s a rehash of what they… it is pure garbage," the president said in his speech at the Cordillera Convention Hall of the Baguio Country Club Friday night.

"But you know, I’m president. I’ve ordered AMLC and everybody to give information what’s my worth in this, in terms of pesos, in this planet."

Duterte further said that neither any member of his family nor himself is involved in corruption, noting that he has not signed any voucher for extra benefits or accepted allowances. He admitted he only gets his salary.

The president vowed to hit hard against corruption, adding that he must lead by example to command obedience.

"You know our people have endured corruption all throughout the years. I would not like to be a person (who is) into the blame game," he said.

"But at least during my time, there will be a respite for the people. And corruption will really be controlled or stopped. ‘Yan ang masiguro ninyo," Duterte said.


PHILSTAR

DENR cancels 75 MPSAs in watersheds


FEBRUARY 14 -Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, in a press briefing in Malacañan on Feb. 9, 2017, says her agency is gearing towards the establishment of "E3 zone" (ecological, economical, and educational) programs in areas where mining firms will be closed. King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo

MANILA, FEBRUARY 20, 2017 (PHILSTAR)  By Louise Maureen Simeon February 14, 2017 - After closing and suspending 28 firms, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez continues her rampage against the mining industry as she ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) of sites that are within watershed areas.

In a briefing Tuesday, Lopez announced that she is revoking 37 MPSAs in Mindanao, 27 in Luzon and 11 in the Visayas which are either under exploratory stages or for possible developments.

"They were given MPSAs but after evaluation, we want to cancel it. Their MPSAs were given before my time and they are in watershed areas, how can I say yes? We can never benefit from those," Lopez said.

An MPSA is an agreement wherein the government shares in the production of the contractor, whether in kind or in value, as the owner of the minerals, and the contractor gets the rest. In return, the contractor provides the necessary financing, technology, management and personnel for the mining project.

READ MORE...

Aside from the 75 MPSAs, the DENR will also revoke the contracts of the 23 firms that have been ordered for closure last week.

All involved companies will be given seven days to answer the show cause orders which the DENR is set to release Wednesday.

While initial investments have already been made in the affected MPSAs, Lopez maintained that she is not wary about possible jeopardy in terms of investments and loss of jobs.

"It’s the duty of the government to look after the people. We cannot say that their (investors) money is more important than the lives of the people," Lopez said.

"If they wanna invest here and rape the country, then I prefer them to go away. I’d prefer them to just go somewhere else, not here. We only want investments that will benefit us," she added. Affront to good governance? Among the big MPSAs ordered for cancellation include the subsidiary of Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp, Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc., and its other MPSAs in Surigao, Zamboanga, and Negros, as well as TVI Resources Development Phils. and Kingking Mining Corp. of Benguet Corp.

"DENR approved 37 MPSAs to do open pit mining in Mindanao. If mining is so good and done so well then why the poorest areas are there?" Lopez said.

In Davao region, MPSAs to be canceled are Alsons Development and Investment Co. Inc., King Eagle Exploration and Mining Corp., Dabawenyo Minerals Corp., Phil. Youbang Mining International Corp., Sinophil Mining and Trading Corp., Core Mining Corp., Ore-East Mining Co. Inc. and Napnapan Mineral Resources Inc.

Furthermore, DENR will also revoke the contracts of Bright Green Resources Corp., Pacific Nickel Phils Inc., Consolidated Ores. Phils. Inc., Phigold Metallic Ore Inc., East Coast Mineral Resources Co. Inc., Kepha Mining Exploration Co., North Dinagat Mineral Resources Corp. and Rosario Consolidated Mining Co.—all of which are located in Surigao.

In Zamboanga, projects on the verge of cancellation include Siennalyn Gold Mining Corp., Solid North Mineral Corp., Atro Mining-Vitali Inc., 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corp., Geotechniques and Mines Inc., Roldan Dalman, Peng Cheng Metallic Resources Corp., Maharlika Dragon Mining Corp. and Czarstone Mining Corp.

Also to be given show cause orders are Vulcan Industrial and Mining Corp. and Selenga Mining Corp. in Negros Occidental; Crescent Mining and Development Corp., Itogon Suyoc Resources Inc. and Macawiwili Gold Mining and Development Company Inc. in Benguet; and Asia Alstron Mining and Development Corp. and Phil Alstron Mining Corp. in Agusan del Norte.

In Zambales, up for cancellation are Shangfil Mining and Trading Corp., San Juanico Resources Corp., Mineral Treasures Mining Corp., Mina Tierra Gracia Inc. and Westchinamin Corp.

To be canceled in Palawan are the two MPSAs of Macroasia Corp., Central Palawan Mining and Industrial Corp., Palawan Star Mining Ventures Inc., Pyramid Hill Mining and Industrial Corp. and Lebach Mining Corp.

Lopez will also revoke the contracts of Jabel Corp. in Abra, Egerton Gold Philippines Inc. in Batangas, Industries Development Corp. in Aurora, Plethora Mineral Corp. in Leyte and Pio Castillo in Cebu.

Other MPSAs for cancellation are GRCO Isulan Mining Corp., South Davao Development Co. Inc., Hard Rock Mineral Trading Inc., Alumina Mining Philippines Inc., Bauxite Resources Inc., Nickelace Inc., United Philippines and China Mining Corp.

Also to be canceled are Aglubang Mining Corp. and Alagag Mining Corp. in Mindoro; Altai Philippines Mining Corp. in Romblon; Indophil Resources Phils Inc. in Camarines Norte; and Parvisgold Inc. in Capiz.

Among the 23 firms covered by the earlier closure order are Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines, Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., LNL Archipelago Minerals, Eramen Minerals Inc., AAMPhil Natural Resources Exploration & Development Corp., Krominco, Sinosteel Philippines HY Mining Corp., Oriental Synergy Mining, Wellex Mining, Libjo Mining, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines, Benguet Corp., Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp., Adnama Mining Resources, Claver Mineral Development, Platinum Development Corp., CTP Construction and Mining, Carrascal Nickel Mining, Marcventures Mining and Development Corp., Hinatuan Mining, Mt. Sinai Exploration Mining & Development, EMIR -Resources.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said the essence of the contracts is requisite to the democratic process that must be upheld and that the recent act of Lopez invades stakeholders' right to due process and is against good governance.

"The cancellation of these agreements does not rest on Lopez alone but must be collectively decided upon by the President and the Cabinet considering the adverse impact it may have on the country," the Chamber said.

------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

FULL TEXT: Chamber of Mines statement on new MPSA cancellations INQUIRER.net / 06:28 PM February 14, 2017


Following Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s announcement on the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs), the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) issued a statement questioning the government’s responsibility to uphold contracts and follow due process.

READ: Gina Lopez cancels 75 mineral production sharing deals

Below is the copy of the COMP’s statement:

The recent announcement of Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary-designate Regina Paz Lopez unilaterally cancelling the Mineral Production Sharing Agreements of 75 projects — most of which are yet to start development, and the Tampakan Environmental Compliance Certificate — is no longer a question of whether a handful of companies really violated environmental laws; it is no longer about Freedom of Information and whether we are going to be furnished a copy of the full audit results; nor about whether we are for open pit mining or not; or whether you are pro or anti-mining.

It has now become a question of whether we still uphold the sanctity of contracts.

It has now become a question of due process.

And of fairness and justice that applies to all.

We feel that the cancellation of these agreements does not rest on Ms. Lopez alone but must be collectively decided upon by the government as a whole considering the adverse impact it may have on the country.

More importantly, we feel that Ms. Lopez now has to answer to the Filipino people on all these that are fundamental in a society that follows the rule of law.

-----------------------------------------

TRELATED(2) FROM THE RIBUNE

Palace: Dominguez only protects DENR chief from legal retaliation Written by Ted Tuvera Wednesday, 15 February 2017 00:00


LOPEZ, DOMINGUEZ

Malacañang’s decision to put brakes on Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez’s crackdown on “irresponsible” mining operations is meant to protect her from possible legal retaliation from big firms.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, in a chance interview at the Palace yesterday, said that during the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) meeting last week wherein co-chairmen Lopez and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez reportedly had a heated exchange of arguments, it was accordingly clear that everybody wants to save the DENR chief from legal hurdles once her order to shutdown or suspend about 28 mining firms will be contested.

“Secretary Dominguez wants to protect (Lopez) so that when the mining companies sue her, you’re gonna win. Sonny Dominguez is very protective for her,” Panelo said.
“Secretary Gina doesn’t initially understand his move. But now she realizes that all of us were trying to protect her,” he added.

READ MORE...

Among those hit by Lopez’s campaign is the Tampakan mine operations — that encompass the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur — which turns out to be a project initiated by the Sagittarius Mining Inc. (SMI), a firm partly owned by Dominguez.

Lopez reported that the total size of the open mining pit in Tampakan which is a deposit of large copper and gold ore body is equivalent to 700 football fields.

SMI is geared to spend $5.9 billion to dig into one of Southeast Asia’s largest virgin natural resources that could supply some 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold.

The Department of Finance (DoF) earlier had accused Lopez of barring members of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau team that conducted the mines audit and the panel that reviewed its findings from having their voices heard in the decision-making process, thus skipping due process.

“Members of the Cabinet have expressed their full support behind President Duterte’s decision to observe due process before implementing a directive of the (DENR) to shut down or suspend 28 mining sites across the country,” the DoF said in a statement.

The DoF added that the DENR decision “triggered outrage in communities hosting mining sites, as some 195,000 direct and indirect workers and their families, or a total of some 1.2 million people, would be adversely affected by the closure and suspensions of the mine sites.”


MANILA TIMES

P2-B aid for mining communities – Andanar BY CATHERINE S. VALENTE, TMT ON FEBRUARY 14, 2017 TOP STORIES


YES TO MINING Students from various colleges join a rally in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Quezon City to protest the closure of mines. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

MALACAÑANG on Monday clarified that the P2 billion worth of assistance announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday was meant for communities affected by the closure of mining firms, not victims of the earthquake in Surigao City.

In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he had consulted Duterte’s special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go on the correct interpretation of the President’s statements in Surigao, which were in Visayan.

“Bong said, ‘I didn’t hear anything like that,’” Andanar told radio station dzRH.

“I would like to clarify that. The President was saying that in the context of the mining. He said that if the mining operations are closed, people will lose their jobs,” he added.

News organizations, including The Manila Times, reported Monday that Duterte had ordered the release of P2 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for earthquake victims.

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Duterte, together with several Cabinet members, flew to Surigao City on Sunday to inspect the response effort in areas affected by the 6.7-magnitude quake that killed at least eight people.

The President, who delivered a speech in the Visayan language, mentioned that the P2 billion aid would go to DSWD “for them to purchase medicines for people who sustained trauma and other injuries.”

“I have released a small amount of money. So I will tell you, those who have lost their livelihood, it’s only small. About P2 billion, I think that’s enough. You won’t be able to spend it! Go on, just buy them a subdivision or a house and lot maybe,” Duterte was quoted as saying in a translation sent by Malacañang transcribers.

But Andanar said Duterte only mentioned, during a meeting, the provision of P1 billion to the DSWD and another P1 billion for other needs.

“The P2 billion he mentioned, ‘this P2 billion is this enough? This was what the President mentioned when he was talking in the context of mining, that when the operations are closed, people will need livelihood,” he said.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Abella clarifies that Duterte vowed to release P2b for quake survivors posted February 15, 2017 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito


Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella

THE Palace on Tuesday confirmed a plan to release P2 billion in aid to victims of the powerful earthquake that damaged Surigao City, contradicting the interpretation of Communications Secretary Martin Andanar the day before that the money had been promised for another purpose.

Speaking in his native Bisaya in Surigao City Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to release P2 billion in relief for victims of the powerful Feb. 10 earthquake. Major Manila dailies and Mindanao-based news organizations reported the President’s promise to Surigao quake victims.

But in a radio interview on Monday, Andanar denied that the President had pledged P2 billion in aid for quake victims. Instead, they were earmarked to soften the impact of the closure and suspension of some 28 mines for environmental reasons, Andanar said.

But on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella issued another clarification, saying that the earthquake victims who lost their homes and livelihoods would be assisted as promised by Duterte.

Abella, who was asked by reporters on Monday to clarify Andanar’s claim, initially agreed that the P2 billion was earmarked for miners who would be displaced by the closure of mines in Surigao.

But reading out part of Duterte’s speech Tuesday, Abella said the aid package was indeed for victims of the earthquake.

“The essence is that he would release the money and the funds in the needs of those affected by the earthquake victims ... The primary source is [President Duterte] and he made a commitment to meet their needs,” Abella said in a Palace press briefing.

On Monday, Andanar said he had checked with Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go on his interpretation.

“I would like to clarify that. The President was saying that in the context of the mining,” Andanar said. “That’s how I understood it. Because that’s what the President is saying, he was talking about the mining problem all throughout, then he inserted the P2 billion,” he added.

Abella said he was not casting blame on Andanar.

“I did not say he released wrong information,” he said. “I’m just going to base on what the President is saying.”

“The figure is important but the collective intent of the President is to provide all their needs of the survivors of the earthquake,” he added, referring to the President’s P2 billion promise.

In the same news briefing, the Palace blamed the Surigao local government for having an “inadequate distribution system” for quake-struck residents, after victims were left to wait for hours before relief reached them during the President’s ceremonial turnover on Sunday.

“Distribution was initially hampered by an inadequate distribution system. The victims were already expecting the relief goods as early as 5 a.m., but the local government made a judgment call to wait for the President who arrived by 1 p.m.,” Abella said.

“At the end of the day, it was successfully distributed. There was a slight delay and I suppose everybody just needs to just learn how to work together,” he added.

Despite Duterte’s earlier instructions not to wait for him for the relief packs to be distributed, victims of Friday’s magnitude-6.8 quake were only able to receive food packs at 2 p.m., after Duterte made the initial distribution.

Three thousand family food packs were already distributed to quake victims, the presidential spokesman said.

Asked to comment on the mix-up, Abella siad the government is “still learning” to adapt to the President’s pronouncements.

“I suppose we are all learning,” he said.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Mining and oil stocks lose 54% market value after DENR canceled MPSAs Published February 17, 2017 12:25pm By TED CORDERO, GMA News

The 17-stock Mining and Oil index lost P277.56 million of market value, days after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) canceled 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) on Tuesday.

Data from the Philippine Stock Exchange showed the sectoral value of mining and oil shares plummeted by 54.03 percent to P236,134,758 as of Thursday, February 16 from P513,699,133 on Tuesday, February 14, the day Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez announced the cancellation of mining contracts covering operations in watershed areas.

"After the announcement their share prices dropped significantly. So when prices drop, their value also drops," Manny Cruz, chief equity strategist at Asiasec Equities Inc., told GMA News Online on Friday.

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On top of the 75 MPSAs canceled, the DENR announced early this month the closure of 23 large-scale miners and suspension of five others following a months-long industry-wide audit of 41 metallic mines in the country.

"This mining industry has been facing significant headwinds over the last few weeks with the announcement of the DENR to suspend and close several mine sites," Luis Limlingan, business development head at Regina Capital Development Corp., told GMA News Online in a separate interview.

"Matters have been compounded by the order to cancel mineral sharing agreements as well," Limlingan noted.

Citing market estimates, Limlingan noted the suspended mines alone account for 17 percent of global output or 34 kilo tons per annum (ktpa).

"Adding in the other closed mines and that would total 70 percent or 39 ktpa," he said.

PSE President and CEO Hans Sicat earlier criticized Lopez for a making a public announcement of the closure and suspension orders, saying it created market jitters and caused confusion.

When the DENR announced the closure and suspension orders last week, global nickel prices leapfrogged by 7 to 8 percent, Sicat noted.

"It’s interesting that an announcement from a particular agency can move global prices. It’s not something we want to project to global investors. We always talk about consistency of policy, consistency of execution,” he said. — VDS, GMA News

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Scrapped mining contracts seen to affect taxpayers By Louise Maureen Simeon (philstar.com) | Updated February 15, 2017 - 5:32pm 2 3 googleplus0 0


Mining stakeholders affected by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' new policies will consider full reimbursement of mining contracts and not just mere compensation, says a mining executive. CC0/Pavlofox

MANILA, Philippines — The country's taxpayers may be the ones to shoulder the effects of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez's order to cancel mining contracts and close down mine sites should stakeholders decide to take their last resort and sue the government.

Global Ferronickel Holdings (FNI), a member of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), maintained that the current state of the industry might cost the government "several billion dollars" since contractors are entitled to investment guarantees.

"Under the law, there is an investment guarantee so this amounts either to an expropriation, with the canceling and all that or say requisition investment," FNI president Dante Bravo told reporters at a weekly forum on Wednesday.

"At the end of the day, Congress will have to pass a law to pay for this damage or for the return of investment for all the mining companies affected and eventually it will be collected through taxes. It's going to be the Filipino people who will shoulder it," he added.

Based on the Philippine Mining Act, contractors are entitled to the basic rights and guarantees provided in the Constitution and recognized by the government including repatriation of investments, remittance of earnings, foreign loans and contracts, freedom from expropriation and requisition of investment.

"The government operates with a budget, funded with the collection of taxes and some government revenues. If you have this additional obligation, it will likely be passed [to taxpayers]," he explained.

Bravo said stakeholders will consider full reimbursement of mining contracts and not just mere compensation.

"You have to consider the loss of wealth, the actual investment directly poured in by the companies. You also have to consider the damage in reputation. It cannot be just a simple calculation," he said.

"We did not violate, but we are being labelled as irresponsible and as violators. These are all attacks against our integrity and reputation. You cannot simply say it's freedom of expression. This is directed against us and we are all identifiable because we have contracts with the government," Bravo added.

This came after Lopez announced on Tuesday her decision to cancel 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) of mining operations that are within watershed areas.

An MPSA is an agreement wherein the government shares in the production of the contractor, whether in kind or in value, as owner of the minerals, and the contractor gets the rest. In return, the contractor provides the necessary financing, technology, management and personnel for the mining project.

Bravo clarified, however, that suing the government will likely be their last resort should they be denied of due process.

"This might be the last option when there's no other remedy. And I don't think situations like this is intended by the whole government. One department may just have made a miscalculation of the impacts," he said.

Stakeholders are now exhausting all possible legal remedies including appeals to the Office of the President.

"We operate under contracts, under obligations and contracts, we operate under due process and you cannot dispute that," Bravo said.

Bravo stressed that the government should instead focus on other pressing problems in the country and should not center its attention to the mining sector.

"The industry is being pushed to the front line.There are other pressing issues like infrastructure, criminality, corruption, security, peace negotiations. We are providing employment and we are operating in mineral reservation areas intended for mining," he said.

COMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon, meanwhile, said mining companies are in fact complementing the government in giving basic services to communities.

"Companies pay taxes but it should not be mining companies' obligation to feed all the people so they are taken out of poverty. We employ, we help in healthcare, in education, and that's human development already. What else does she (Lopez) wants us to do? We are doing already what we are obliged to do with the basic tenets of the law," she noted.

Mining stakeholders also remained firm in their decision to oppose the confirmation of Lopez at the Commission on Appointments.

"This is the first time that we will be opposing a DENR Secretary. We had several issues before but we engaged with them and came up with a win-win solution," Halcon said.

"The mining industry is not a bad industry because it has helped the economy and will continue to help in nation building," she added.

About $22-billion worth of investments are currently in the pipeline which are supposed to be developed since 2013 and are now put on hold.


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