G.R. No. 195580, 21 April 2014 and 28 January 2015 (MR)
Respondent Redmont filed before the Panel of Arbitrators (POA) of the DENR three (3) separate petitions for the denial of petitioners’ applications for Mining Production Sharing Agreement alleging that at least 60% of the capital stock of petitioners, McArthur, Tesoro and Narra are owned and controlled by MBMI Resources, Inc. (MBMI), a 100% Canadian corporation. Redmont reasoned that since MBMI is a considerable stockholder of petitioners, it was the driving force behind petitioners’ filing of the MPSAs over the areas covered by applications since it knows that it can only participate in mining activities through corporations which are deemed Filipino citizens. Redmont argued that given that petitioners’ capital stocks were mostly owned by MBMI, they were likewise disqualified from engaging in mining activities through MPSAs, which are reserved only for Filipino citizens.
Petitioners averred that they were qualified persons under Section 3(aq) of Republic Act No. (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and stated that their nationality as applicants is immaterial because they also applied for Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) which are granted to foreign-owned corporations. Nevertheless, they claimed that the issue on nationality should not be raised since McArthur, Tesoro and Narra are in fact Philippine Nationals as 60% of their capital is owned by citizens of the Philippines.
Whether or not petitioners are Filipino Corporation.
Petitioners are foreign corporations.
Under a joint venture agreement the Company holds directly and indirectly an effective equity interest in the Alpha Property of 60.4%. Pursuant to a shareholders’ agreement, the Company exercises joint control over the companies in the Alpha Group.48 (emphasis supplied)
Concluding from the above-stated facts, it is quite safe to say that petitioners McArthur, Tesoro and Narra are not Filipino since MBMI, a 100% Canadian corporation, owns 60% or more of their equity interests. Such conclusion is derived from grandfathering petitioners’ corporate owners, namely: MMI, SMMI and PLMDC. Going further and adding to the picture, MBMI’s Summary of Significant Accounting Policies statement– –regarding the “joint venture” agreements that it entered into with the “Olympic” and “Alpha” groups––involves SMMI, Tesoro, PLMDC and Narra. Noticeably, the ownership of the “layered” corporations boils down to MBMI, Olympic or corporations under the “Alpha” group wherein MBMI has joint venture agreements with, practically exercising majority control over the corporations mentioned. In effect, whether looking at the capital structure or the underlying relationships between and among the corporations, petitioners are NOT Filipino nationals and must be considered foreign since 60% or more of their capital stocks or equity interests are owned by MBMI.
In ending, the “control test” is still the prevailing mode of determining whether or not a corporation is a Filipino corporation, within the ambit of Sec. 2, Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, entitled to undertake the exploration, development and utilization of the natural resources of the Philippines. When in the mind of the Court there is doubt, based on the attendant facts and circumstances of the case, in the 60-40 Filipino-equity ownership in the corporation, then it may apply the “grandfather rule.”
*Case Digest by JAY MARK P. BALBOSA JD – IV, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020