The Taguig City Prosecutor Office recently recommended the filing of criminal charges against a non-government organization (NGO) for spreading malicious information against Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC), an affiliate of Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC).
In a three-page resolution, Taguig City Prosecutor Archimedes Manabat found probable cause to indict Yolanda Esguerra, Candy Hidalgo, Edel Garingan and Victor Morillo, officers of Philippines Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) for cybercrime libel.
The Prosecutor Office found libelous the respondents’ statement posted on their website on June 20, 2015 claiming that HMC’s barge destroyed three small fishing boats on their way into the port of Manicani Island in Guian, Eastern Samar.
“Skipton Manila, a large barge containing several heavy equipment and machinery for mining operations was sent by HMC despite a suspension order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” PMPI alleged as posted in its website.
“We fail to understand how a suspended mining company was able to get the support of our police to bring heavy equipment they can use to resume their supposedly suspended operations,” it added.
Another press release was posted by the respondents on June 24, 2015 on PMPI website reiterating their claim that HMC intentionally destroyed three fishing boats.
“Something is to said when a mining firm intentionally ran over small boats of the fisherfolks of Manicani, for the second time. The first was only last December, with the similar intent; to haul heavy equipment into the island and continue their mining operation,” it said.
Some Manicani Island residents also executed a joint-affidavit attesting that there is no truth that the barge rammed the pump boats and no nickel ores were transported by the barge.
Apart from local residents, the incident was also witnessed by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Maritime Police (PMP), Philippine National Police (PNP), national and local media, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and DENR personnel.
According to NAC legal counsel Ram Ramos, HMC has filed a complaint-affidavit denying PMPI’s allegations saying that these imputations damaged the reputation of the company “done with malice and with reckless disregard for the truth and with no good intention or justifiable motive.”
After viewing the footages submitted by the parties, the prosecutor said, the supposed collision was caused by the pump boats who intentionally blocked the path of the slow moving barge.
“After the collision, the barge even retreated to find another berthing spot. Thus the phrase “intentionally ran over small boats” would be false,” the prosecutor said in its resolution.
“The publication puts complainant in bad light because it portrays a mining corporation’s use of brute force, notwithstanding damage to property of others, in its operations,” it added. (PNA)