Former Finance exec calls for mining ownership transparency

former Department of Finance (DOF) Undersecretary Cielo Magno

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor 

Mining laws of the country must require mining companies seeking permits and those currently operating in the country to disclose their beneficial ownership information, according to former Department of Finance (DOF) Undersecretary Cielo Magno.

“We have to apply on beneficial ownership. A lot of politicians are involved in mining but they use dummies and that is the reason why a lot of policies favor mining companies,” she said during the Western Visayas Impact Summit at the University of the Philippines Visayas on May 10.

Magno emphasized that the disclosure of beneficial ownership information entails entities applying for or holding a participating interest in a mining license or contract to disclose the identities of their beneficial owner/s, the extent of ownership, and specifics regarding how ownership or control is exercised.

The former DOF undersecretary was speaking to over a hundred participants of the summit which include nongovernmental organizations, community leaders, government officials, among others.

Magno cited House Speaker Martin Romualdez family’s link with mining companies in the country such as the Marcventures, with subsidiaries BrightGreen Resources Corporation, Alumina Mining Philippines Incorporated, and Bauxite Resources Incorporated.

In Iloilo, the TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) is engaged in mining exploration activities in Pan de Azucar Island in Concepcion town.

The exploration activity was however put on hold following a cease and desist order issued by the provincial government against their mining activities in March.

Manuel Paolo A. Villar, son of the country’s wealthiest man, has been the vice chairman of the TVRID since December 2013. Villar, who sits as a chairman and president of Prime Asset Ventures Inc., is a major shareholder in TVIRD through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Prime Resource Holdings Inc.

Based on its website, Villar has been a member of the TVI Board since June 2023 and sits on the Disclosure Committee.

Magno also stressed the importance of strengthening the enforcement of regulations in the country’s mining laws.

She emphasized the need for the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to make the process of obtaining mining contracts more “transparent.”

“We don’t even know who’s applying for mining rights in the country. We just see the list, but we have no idea who these applicants are — whether they are politicians, or who the real owners are. We really don’t know,” she stressed.

The MGB is an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, who is responsible for the inspections, investigating violations, and imposing penalties for non-compliance under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.


“The only requirement to get a mining right in the country is to have a bank book that shows you can hire mining engineers? Is that sufficient, no,” Magno added.

She also stressed the need to overhaul the tax system for mining.

“The involvement of politicians is the primary motivation why the tax on mining is low. There is a need to impose higher taxes on mining ventures,” she said.

In September last year, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the proposed Act enhancing the fiscal regime for the local mining industry.


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