ROUGH CUTS| A call for MGB XI’s full disclosure

FROM WHAT is going on now in the country in relation to the interment of the waxed cadaver of the late President and strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, it appears that President Rodrigo Duterte is showing his uncanny ways of doing his politics. He is not only shrewd but smart as well.

Remember that even during the campaign period when he promised to the people in Ilocandia to allow the burial of the Marcos cadaver at the “Libingan,” he was already courting controversy. But he did not waver even after the initial negative feedbacks seen to have emanated from the camps of his political opponents.

Now that he is President and has ordered the military to make the necessary preparations for the transfer of the Marcos remains from his crypt in Ilocos to the “Libingan,” the opposition is starting to smolder mostly coming from the sector who claimed to be victims of Marcos’ martial law regime and those who are interpreting the law governing the operation and utilization of the “Libingan” or Republic Act (RA) 289 and RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act contrary to the interpretation of the President.

The opposition has sought relief from the Supreme Court in order to stop the burial, as much as possible, permanently.

According to the suit, allowing Marcos burial “mocks and taunts Section 1 of RA 289” which clearly defines the qualifications of persons who, when they die, can be buried in the grounds of the “Libingan.” Specifically, the petitioners claim, “only presidents or soldiers worthy of public inspiration and emulation” can be interred in that cemetery.

In his statement during a press conference in Davao City a week back, President Duterte said that under the same law Marcos can qualify to be buried at the “Libingan” because he was a President and a soldier.

And we believe that the President was correct in not trying to interpret certain words in the specific provision cited by the petitioners. We are referring to the attendant qualifiers that say “worthy of public inspiration and emulation.” Why, because these qualifications are relative. That is, depending on who is being asked about the late former President Marcos. Still, it cannot be denied that a good number of the Filipino people do not share the same belief on the late former president with that of the petitioners.

We are certain that President Duterte knows that his decision to allow Marcos’ burial at the “Libingan” will eventually reach the High Court for final interpretation of the law. So if the SC backs the President it would not only be a legal victory for him but moral as well. If the decision is to stop the interment, then Duterte cannot be accused by anyone, even the Marcoses and the people of the entire Ilocandia region who rallied behind his candidacy, of reneging on his campaign promise. They can only look up to the Supreme Court and the petitioners as the culprits.

Now, that sticking to his position and letting the Supreme Court makes the final decision can only be interpreted as the mark of the President’s astuteness, cleverness and sagacity in using his wisdom in making difficult decisions.

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So the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has already approved the operations of a mining company in Davao Oriental? And we assume that the authorization given by the MGB and the Environmental Management Bureau of the same government Department has the go-signal of Secretary Gina Lopez.

But what mineral resources are being mined in that more than four thousand hectares concession area? And what is the kind of mining being allowed by the MGB for the purpose of extracting the ores? Is it surface mining method? If it is, has the MGB-XI allowed the mining company to use placer mining, dredging, open pit, strip or simple quarrying?

We are raising these questions because there were several instances in the very recent past that we heard of reports that a certain mining company having operations in that province did a “quarry style” scraping of the mountains and load the ores directly to waiting vessels dropping anchor on the Pujada Bay.

According to our sources, this way the said mining company was able to do away with the tedious permitting requirements for putting up a mineral processing plant in the locality where they could be hounded with environmental issues and has to reckon with corrupt local and national government regulatory officials.

We have to admit though that we do not have any idea if the mining firm given authority by the MGB is the same company that was reported to be directly shipping the raw ores to China. But even if it is a new one, or the same old mining firm adopting a new name, we deem it appropriate for the MGB XI to disclose to the public the method used by the company to extract the minerals it is after in that resource-rich province.

The local MGB should be transparent in its dealings with mining companies as what the DENR Secretary wants her department to be.

Posted in Opinion