SC Rules LGU's Power Over Small-Scale Mining Deals Not Absolute

MANILA, April 29 (PNA) -- The Supreme Court has ruled local government's power over small-scale mining contracts in their areas is not absolute.

In a 20-page ruling, the SC en banc said the enforcement of the small-scale mining law to the provincial government is subject to the supervision, control and review of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The SC, through Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, said under the Administrative Code of 1987, the DENR is empowered to carry out the constitutional mandate of controlling and supervising the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the country's natural resources.

"Hence, the enforcement of small-scale mining law in the provinces is made subject to the supervision, control and review of the DENR under the Local Government Code of 1991, while the People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 provides that the People's Small-Scale Mining Program is to be implemented by the DENR Secretary in coordination with other local government agencies," the SC said.

Under the Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, small-scale mining is defined as the mining activities which rely heavily on manual labor using simple implements and methods and do not use explosives or heavy mining equipment.

The case arose from the petition filed by the League of the Provinces of the Philippines asking the SC the nullify Section 17 of the Local Government Code and Section 24 of the Small-Scale Mining Act.

The LPP also asked the SC to nullify the cancellation of small-scale mining permits which was issued by the province of Bulacan.

Then DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes, in cancelling permits issued by the province of Bulacan, said the Bulacan governor went beyond its authority when it issued the small-scale mining permits.

"The decision of the DENR Secretary was rendered in accordance with the power of review granted to the DENR Secretary in the resolution of disputes, which is provided for in Section 24 of R.A. No. 7076 and Section 22 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations," the SC said. (PNA)