DENR asks DOJ to probe mining firm

By Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been asked to conduct a probe over the possible tax violation of a mining firm operated by Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice and Liberal Party financier Patrick Angelo Gutierrez.

DOJ logo (Manila Bulletin) DOJ logo
(Manila Bulletin)

The Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) Undersecretary AnalizaRebuelta sought the investigation of SR Metals, Inc. (SRMI) for its alleged failure “to disclose and comply fully with its tax obligations.”

In her letter to the DOJ, Rebuelta said the Department should “look into the tax liabilities of SRMI and its affiliates for failing to pay or remit to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) the tax due from the 5 percent of the gross proceeds amounting to millions of pesos."

Rebuelta called for the probe after the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a cease and desist order against SRMI after the firm was reportedly found to have exceeded the 50,000-ton allowed annual volume for small-scale miners.

Rebuelta also sought a similar probe before the BIR.

In her letters, Rebueltaattached the complaint it received from one Rodney Basiana of Basiana Mining Exploration Corp. (BMEC) who accused SRMI of reportedly getting revenue amounting to P2.8 billion from unauthorized operations.

“SRMI began its operations in 2006 – I had been hoodwinked. 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 extraction. 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,” read Basiana’s complaint.

“The 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, SRMI had realized over P28 billion in revenues from nickel ore shipments to China, as records of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and MGB would show,” he pointed out.

Basiana also has a pending criminal complaint before the Surigao City Prosecutor’s Office last year accusing Erice, Gutierrez, and other executives of SRMI of falsification of public documents.