NEWS: Comval SP set to summon Joecab, others on ZTE’s mining rights over Diwalwal

Joecab says not him but Way Kurat

Chiongkee welcomes SP probe

ZTE wants to develop Diwalwal as “new Shenzhen City in the Philippines”

sept 12

The Compostela Valley Sangguniang Panlalawigan will summon former Governor Jose Caballero and involved national government officials to shed light in its own legislative inquiry in the wake of reports that the controversial Chinese firm ZTE Corp has been awarded of $1-billion mining rights in Diwalwal.

Acting on the privilege speeches Boardmembers Dexter Lopoz and Neri Barte in yesterday’s session, the provincial board moved to conduct an inquiry to know of the real score of the reported ZTE’s award of mining rights by Malacanang to Diwalwal.

The SP is accordingly apprehensive it could trigger anew instability in the mining area coming from the ranks of the miners who might fear dislocation if the report is not clarified.

The province’s SP entasked its environment committee chaired by Boardmember Moran Takasan to send letters to Caballero, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza and former Environment Secretary Mike Defensor, who all accordingly knew of the ZTE’s deal in Diwalwal.

Asked for his comment, former Gov. Caballero denied he knew of the ZTE’s deal in Diwalwal and that he met with ZTE’s top officials who accordingly accompanied President Arroyo when she visited Compostela town last July 8, 2006.

He instead said that the SP should better summon 1st District Cong. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora as it was him who was visited by the President and in his legislative office in Compostela where the President announced the news that she was bringing with her ZTE officials interested to invest in mining in the province.

Caballero, then the Kampi provincial chairman, said that he was not in the first place invited by Zamora and other Lakas officials in the province in that presidential visit when Caballero was still the governor.

He said though he would listen for more news about the ZTE’s mining deal saying that he only knew all about it since then in the news.

Asked for his comment, Gov. Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy in text message said that he welcomes the SP’s move to probe on ZTE Corp.

The provincial board was tipped off last week in a privilege speech of Boardmember Lopoz about the mining rights given to ZTE Corp. over Diwalwal when the a recent editorial of Philippine Star made mention of the firm’s award of mining rights over Diwalwal by Malacanang.

But the other day, Malacañang already responded to the news that dragged again the ZTE Corp saying that it is still open to doing business with the firm and its subsidiaries despite the political storm created by the $329-million NBN contract signed by the government with ZTE Corp.

President Arroyo was forced to cancel the NBN contract after the disclosure of alleged bribery and overpricing in the deal.

As this developed,  an unimpeachable source said that contrary to Malacanang statement, technical people belonging to the ZTE Corp. had already made even underground exploration in Diwalwal and had visited North Davao in Maco town close to the days after the visit of the President, unimpeachable source told Sidlak recently.

The Chinese-speaking technical men went down to see for themselves underground veins in Diwalwal and stayed there for hours bringing only Jollibee lunchpacks for their meals, source added.

The source added that he was even astounded that when the group of technical men visited Diwalwal they had already a grand master plan of developing Diwalwal as the “new Shenzhen City in the Philippines”.

Shenzhen City, established in 1980, is China’s first economic special zone, which successfully developed its economy without damaging the environment. Todate, it has modern cityscape as a result of the vibrant economy made possible by rapid foreign investment since the late 1970s, when it was but a small fishing village.

But the source said that he was also surprised that when they toured over the North Davao area at Masara using a military chopper a member of ZTE’s technical men borrowed a soldier’s M203 grenade launcher and fired a shot down to a hill at Masara area to the laughter of the rest of the team.

Lawyer Harry Roque disclosed the other day that he plans to file graft charges against Trade Secretary Favila with the Office of the Ombudsman for awarding a $1-billion mining contract to Chinese firm ZTE Corp., which was involved in the canceled national broadband network (NBN) deal with the government.

Roque said the government, represented by Favila, violated the Constitution when it signed the memorandum of understanding with ZTE International Investments Ltd., the investment arm of ZTE Corp., allowing the company to explore, develop and operate mining sites in the Mt. Diwalwal gold mining site in Monkayo, Compostela Valley.

The administration allowed ZTE to explore some 8,000 hectares of Mt. Diwalwal.

Roque said the agreement was entered into with special authority from President Arroyo.

Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, however, said there is no record in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that the MOU has been implemented.

Atienza criticized Roque for attempting to “provoke” small-scale miners in Mt. Diwalwal, who would supposedly be affected by the ZTE operations in the gold mining site.

“There is no reason for them (small-scale miners) to be worried or bothered. Mr. Roque should not do that, provoke the small-scale miners there,” he noted.

When asked if ZTE Corp. applied for mining permits to implement the MOU, Atienza expressed uncertainty that such application could still come through, citing the government’s existing plan for Mt. Diwalwal.

According to Roque, the MOU, which was signed on July 12, 2006, practically awarded “mining rights” to ZTE Corp. for the 8,000 hectares of mineral reserve in Mt. Diwalwal.

Roque added that the Philippine government also awarded similar “mining rights” to ZTE Corp. in another mining area in North Davao. (Cha Monforte/Rural Urban News) http://ruralurbanews.blogspot.com

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