Sunday, September 25, 2016

Marcopper case: Crocs are just bidding for time to strike again?



To refresh our people's memories. It will be recalled that during the second to the last session of the previous SP in June, the SP adopted a resolution that introduced the filing of a case in Canada. This is in continuation of Marinduque's call for environmental justice that has been marred in recent past by the most blatant kind of deception and manipulation by some in government and their legal cohorts.

An ethical Canadian law firm was identified based on track record after a prolonged search by stakeholders concerned. The said law firm was invited for talks by the provincial government of Marinduque in January this year. The said law firm had expected to receive a clear and direct mandate from the provincial government to handle the case in Canada after the dismissal of the case handled by U.S. lawyers in Nevada.

The U.S. lawyers also showed up in the talks held at the provincial government with stakeholders. Based on reliable information the Canadian lawyers made it clear that they would welcome talks with the U.S. lawyers. But months so quietly passed that civil society groups concerned felt that contrary to what were agreed upon, some people are just buying time to home-brew another plot.

Then earlier this month, an SP meeting called by the Committee on Environment was held at the Capitol.

Meeting at Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP)  Sept. 2, 2016 with U.S. legal counsel. FB photo: Carlo Manay

Lo and behold!  The U.S. legal counsel whose "actions, demeanor and articulations in many instances" was slammed by certain members of the previous SP, and whose continued participation in the planned suit to be filed in Canada is being openly opposed by Marinduque's foremost environmental org, appeared during the meeting with a powerpoint presentation of his plan and those of the U.S.lawyers to file the case in Canada with another Canadian law firm of their own choosing instead. 

No explanation was conveyed if the agreed negotiations between the two law firms who came over for talks with PGM ever took place, but this time in the SP meeting the controversial U.S. lawyer claimed to be ready already with draft contracts for approval by the SP. The contract excludes the Canadian ethical law firm identified and officially invited by the PGM in January.

Only very recently were copies of the purported draft contracts presented to key persons involved in this issue. One such person said thus: "It's simply worse, horrible, so much worse than the 2005 agreement entered into by the provincial government and the legal counsel concerned".

MACEC reps including the Bishop of Boac were invited.
FB photo: Carlo Manay

In another follow-up meeting organized by the environmental group, the general sentiment of those concerned was to enumerate the causes for terminating the involvement of the U.S. lawyers concerned. Asked why they seem to favor these lawyers in-spite of poor performance and questionable actions that put a cloud of doubt on their credibility and integrity, a provincial government official explained "many times" that they are thinking that if the U.S. lawyers will not be engaged, "baka mademanda ang probinsya!".

So is there anything more sick than this situation? How can the Province work with a law firm that allegedly appears to be threatening to sue if they choose another firm? Is that how lame arguments are being loosely and ridiculously sold in Marinduque? 

Common sense dictates that it's not how it works. The Province has every right to terminate relationship with any law firm. Not to forget that the case is over in Nevada. Fair terms to be negotiated between the U.S. and Canadian law firms mentioned, as agreed upon, is not for province to worry about.

Why should clients act under threat by their own lawyers if this is the case? Isn't that a terrible, abusive kind of relationship? Or are other 'arrangements' past and present behind all these?

We've seen a lot of related tragic-comedy plays before. Is this another such comedic and tragic Moro-Moro and Zarzuela in the offing? Batman, Robin, Superman and even Darna could make special guest appearances on this one for sanity and justice to reign in our beloved Marinduque.

Also read the following excerpts (posted here exactly 3 years ago): 

Marinduque board member decries 'unfair, insulting, disrespectful, irresponsible' conduct of stakeholders meeting and false claims


Marinduque provincial board member Adeline Angeles has decried the undue haste and pressure with which persons invited to a ‘stakeholders meeting’ in Marinduque were subjected to in relation to the Barrick Gold offer of settlement. USD20M was offered by the firm to prevent further litigation of the damage suit filed in Nevada by Marinduque. 

In a privilege speech before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Angeles stressed that prior to said meeting there was a clear understanding between the executive and legislative bodies that the provincial board would first await a proper endorsement from the Governor so the issue could be tackled by the legislative body. It turned out, she said, that people were made to believe that the premature ‘stakeholders meeting’ was a joint initiative of the offices of the Governor and the Sanggunian, yet the vice-governor/presiding officer was hardly aware it was being called.    

To top it all, while invoking and constantly reminding the invitees on the confidentiality of the information being discussed, those invited to the meeting were likewise asked to decide “ora mismo”, that same moment, there being purportedly no more time left for them to consult with their constituents, Angeles stressed.

“I found this conduct very unfair, insulting, disrespectful, not to mention very irresponsible for any government institution to do or allow to be done. With the pressure being given, this is an outright violation of the invitees’ right to make free and informed decision”, she said. "…  it maybe misinterpreted as “pakitang- tao” lamang if not “panggagamit at panggigipit lamang”.

BM Adeline Angeles (extreme right) and other board members in an earlier meeting with Walter Scott at the Session Hall.  (Photo from Fb Angeles' Report)

Suspending authority granted to chief legal counsel.

Angeles also conveyed her observation that the actions, demeanor and articulations in many instances of Walter Scott, chief legal counsel of the provincial government should drive people to think if he is still capable of continuously representing the province in the case filed in the US.  Consequently, the board member proposed the passage of a resolution immediately suspending any authority granted by the province to the lawyer/law firm handling the case in Nevada.

Click here for full text of Angeles’ Privilege Speech at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sept. 18, 2013. 

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Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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