G.R. No. 98332 January 16, 1995
Former President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order Nos 211 and 279 in the exercise of her legislative powers. EO No. 211 prescribes the interim procedures in the processing and approval of applications for the exploration, development and utilization of minerals pursuant to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. EO No. 279 authorizes the DENR Secretary to negotiate and conclude joint-venture, co-production, or production- sharing agreements for the exploration, development, and utilization of mineral resources.
The issuance and the impeding implementation by the DENR of Administrative Order Nos. 57 which declares that all existing mining leases or agreements which were granted after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution…shall be converted into production-sharing agreements within one (1) year from the effectivity of these guidelines.” and Administrative Order No. 82 which provides that a failure to submit Letter of Intent and Mineral Production-Sharing Agreement within 2 years from the effectivity of the Department Administrative Order No. 57 shall cause the abandonment of the mining, quarry, and sand and gravel claims, after their respective effectivity dates compelled the Miners Association of the Philippines, Inc., an organization composed of mining prospectors and claim owners and claim holders, to file the instant petition assailing their validity and constitutionality before this Court.
Are the two Department Administrative Orders valid?
Yes. Petitioner's insistence on the application of Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended, as the governing law on the acceptance and approval of declarations of location and all other kinds of applications for the exploration, development, and utilization of mineral resources pursuant to Executive Order No. 211, is erroneous. Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended, pertains to the old system of exploration, development and utilization of natural resources through "license, concession or lease" which, however, has been disallowed by Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution. By virtue of the said constitutional mandate and its implementing law, Executive Order No. 279 which superseded Executive Order No. 211, the provisions dealing on "license, concession or lease" of mineral resources under Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended, and other existing mining laws are deemed repealed and, therefore, ceased to operate as the governing law. In other words, in all other areas of administration and management of mineral lands, the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended, and other existing mining laws, still govern. Section 7 of Executive Order No. 279 provides, thus:
Sec. 7. All provisions of Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended, other existing mining laws, and their implementing rules and regulations, or parts thereof, which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Executive Order, shall continue in force and effect.
Well -settled is the rule, however, that regardless of the reservation clause, mining leases or agreements granted by the State, such as those granted pursuant to Executive Order No. 211 referred to this petition, are subject to alterations through a reasonable exercise of the police power of the State.
Accordingly, the State, in the exercise of its police power in this regard, may not be precluded by the constitutional restriction on non-impairment of contract from altering, modifying and amending the mining leases or agreements granted under Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended, pursuant to Executive Order No. 211. Police Power, being co-extensive with the necessities of the case and the demands of public interest; extends to all the vital public needs. The passage of Executive Order No. 279 which superseded Executive Order No. 211 provided legal basis for the DENR Secretary to carry into effect the mandate of Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.