TUBAY, Agusan del Norte – Rumored ex-lover of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Agusan del Norte Governor Angelica Rosedell M. Amante may have a hand in the non-inclusion of San Roque Metals, Inc. (SRMI) in the order of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez’s closure order of at least 23 mining firms in the country recently.
This is the sentiment of most of the local anti-mining advocates in Agusan del Norte, particularly in the Municipality of Tubay. It can be recalled that the DENR has ordered the suspension of operations of 23 mining firms in the country after a rigid mining audit which was headed by no less than Sec. Lopez. Of the 23 mining firms, at least 14 of these are located in the Caraga region and SRMI was not included.
In 2012, SRMI’s environmental clearance certificate (ECC) was revoked by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) for violations of its small-scale mining permit, limiting its extraction of nickel ores to 50,000 metric tons per year. This decision by the EMB which was appealed by SRMI, was affirmed by the Supreme Court in its ruling later. Residents of Tubay as well as local officials have long been complaining about the SRMI’s operation which they claimed to have destroyed their mountains and coastal areas. Earlier during the campaign, then Presidential candidate Duterte also expressed his disgust over SRMI’s operation and vowed that if he will win, he will close down the company because of its massive environmental violations.
Amante has been rumored to have a past intimate relation with the President when the latter was still a Mayor in Davao City. In a Facebook comment of Ryan Culima, SRMI’s Vice President, he admitted that indeed Amante was the President’s “ex-lover”.
Although Amante was aligned with Duterte’s opponent, many observers have seen Amante to have frequented Malacanan after the elections accompanied by Eric Gutierrez, SRMI’s head. It is common knowledge in the province that Amante is a staunch supporter of SRMI and vise versa.
Gutierrez’s group has been tagged as untouchable during Pres. Aquino’s time as one of the owners of the company is a close ally of Aquino, Caloocan Rep. Edgardo Erice.