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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines -- Lawyers of a small-scale miners’ organization in Zamboanga del Sur challenged officials of a Canadian mining firm and the National Bureau of Investigation to present before the courts emails they had claimed were “spurious” and part of a plot to discredit the company and force it to give up its mining concession in the southern Philippines.
Lawyers Glocelito Jayma and Jarley Sulay-Trugiilo, counsel of the Monte de Oro Small Scale Miners Association or MOSSMA, said officials of TVI Resources Development Philippines Inc. should have submitted the supposedly fake emails to the Court of Appeals in this city, which has issued a writ of amparo and a temporary protection order in favor of the small-scale miners in a suit they filed against the mining firm.
The lawyers were referring to a July 30 press conference in Manila called by TVIRD in which it presented reports from the NBI and private security consultancy, Pacific Strategies & Assessments, which had been contracted to investigate the “coordinated attacks” against the foreign mining firm.
At that presentation, the NBI and PSA backed up TVIRD’s claims that it was the target of a "sophisticated, vicious, and concerted" cyber attack involving fake emails sent to ranking government officials, including President Benigno Aquino III, and to media that portrayed the mining firm’s officials as being involved in “murder and other criminal conspiracies” against the small miners.
The mining company firm also announced criminal charges against three persons accused of authoring and helping circulate the fake emails: Edgar T. Baling of Kahayagan, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur; Joel E. Cayabyab of Barangay Buenavista, Pagadian City; and Julieto L. Monding of Buug, Zamboanga Sibugay.
But at a press conference here Friday, the MOSSMA lawyers questioned why the NBI and PSA reports were presented to media instead of being submitted as evidence to the CA.
Without delving into the authenticity of the emails, the lawyers said these were the same evidence MOSSMA submitted to support its petition for a writ of amparo and temporary protection order against TVIRD.
The case is docketed as CA No.0004-WR/A-MIN.
On July 13, 2012, Associate Justice Ma. Luisa C. Quijano-Padilla of the 21st Division of the Court of Appeals Mindanao Station granted MOSSMA’s petition for the write of amparo. On July 24, she issued the temporary protection order.
Sulay-Trugillo recalled that during one of the hearings, Quijano-Padilla ordered TVIRD’s legal counsel and officials to present their evidence in court, particularly anything to refute the claims of MOSSMA’s officials and members.
However, she said, the firm’s lawyer and officials stalled and did not present any evidence in court. Instead, she added, they claimed that TVIRD’s system had been hacked.
In a letter he wrote to a national daily, which he shared with reporters here, Jayma noted that “the so-called NBI report was not submitted in court during the last hearing on July 19 and 20, 2012, even as the TVIRD was given time to present evidence. TVIRD did not give a copy to the petitioners (of the) alleged NBI report during the last hearing on the writ of amparo ... In other words, the so-called NBI report was released to media for some reasons. Clearly, it is my impression, the so-called NBI report is not really intended for the court to evaluate."
"We want a copy of those reports they presented before the Manila media. They were given time to present their evidence in court since we have an ongoing hearing on the case against them here. But instead of presenting their evidence in court, they presented it to the media. We wonder why they did not present that in court," Jayma stressed at the press conference.
Sulay-Trugillo, on the other hand, noted that some of the incidents mentioned in the emails had actually happened to their clients
"The threats are real,” she said. “The surveillance (is) real. And all the negative (things that have been) happening to our clients coincided with what were described in the emails. That is not coincidence.”
“TVIRD claimed that the emails were fabricated by our clients. If these were fabricated, why are then these emails correspond(ing) to what happened to our clients?" she asked.
At the same time, However, Jayma said the emails were " only one of the basis for the filing of the (petition for a) writ of amparo."