Court dismiss anti-mining case against DENR Sec. Paje, Gov. Lee and others

DENR Secretary Ramon Paje. Photo by

Legal battle is just starting says Matnog anti-mining group

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

SORSOGON CITY – The motion for reconsideration filed by Atty. Joven Laura of the National Union of People’s Lawyer who handled the cause of the Alyansa Laban sa Mina sa Matnog (ALMMA)and other petitioners against the operation of the iron ore mine in Barangay Bolacawe and Bon-ot Daco in Matnog town here was junked by Executive Judge Victor Gella as pairing judge of RTC Branch 53 after the recussion of Judge Rofebar Gerona who was accused of partiality by the anti-mining group. The order of RTC 53 on October 18, dismissing Civil Case No. 2011-8338 a month and two days after the motion for reconsideration was filed by the plaintiffs put the legal fight at the Supreme Court.

Gella, in his decision assailing the arguments of the anti-mining group posited that it failed to exhaust administrative remedies since the actionable neglect were committed by public officers and employees. It further asserted that plaintiffs lawyer admitted that they do not have the final decree establishing failure on the part of public officials and employee to act on the final decree. For non-exhaustion of administrative remedies, the decision said that it was doomed to be dismissed.

The ruling was another blow to the anti-mining group and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan of Sorsogon who are campaigning for the closure of the iron ore mine operations anchoring that the permit issued by Governor Lee was illegal which the court has seen otherwise. It further stated that the petitioner subsumed several causes of actions including the issuance of Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) as anticipatory action, in effect pre-empting the court to decide in their favor.

It reminded the group that the proper legal steps is to initiate a case against the mining companies solely for damages after exhausting their redress before the proper administrative tribunals and the time that plaintiffs secured a decree in their favor that is final, then it would be the most opportune time to file a writ for continuing mandamus when there is neglect or omission of the final decree.

The legal idea presented by Judge Gella can be use by the anti-mining group if ever they have to rebound from this debacle of judgment considering that ALMMA is barricading the road to negate the transport of extracted iron ores.

When reach for comment, the office of the Governor did not issue a statement except that the court has spoken. That of the NUPL’s, the legal battle is just starting.

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