ROSARIO, Agusan del Sur — At the Philsaga Mining Corporation’s annual stockholders meeting on March 6, shareholders voted to replace the Australian directors giving the board a new composition with Filipinos now entirely comprising the seven-member board.
Three Australians and a Filipino working for Australian mining company Ten Sixty Four Limited (ASX: X64) were removed from the board by a unanimous vote of the shareholders, according to lawyer Raul C. Villanueva, president of Philsaga, thus making the company completely controlled by Filipinos.
This development resulted from the decision of the major tribal groups in the neighboring town of Bunawan to declare X64 and its trading arm Komo Diti Trading Limited as persona non grata for failing to pay at least US $4,837,221 intended to cover the costs of the company’s operations and the royalties of indigenous peoples groups.
“The recent incident of X64 refusing to pay the gold and silver proceeds was a sign that that good faith no longer existed, coupled with declaration of persona non grata (against X64) by numerous tribal groups with whom the corporation has established very good relationship,” Villanueva said.
In an interview, Villanueva recounted how foreigners were present in the board when he first joined the Philsaga Board in August 2009 as its Corporate Secretary. He was informed by the late former president, retired Army colonel Samuel G. Afdal, that this was done to honor the shareholders of Medusa Mining Limited (now known as X64), who worked hard to raise money and turn Philsaga into a significant mining firm.
40% of the grandparent firm is owned by X64. Australian mining corporations are recognized as industry leaders in terms of corporate governance, safety, and mining standards, and their advice is greatly appreciated.
But foreign directors are not involved in the company’s management or financial matters. Up to the most recent occurrences, Filipinos and Australians cooperated under the tenets of good faith and trust. This practice was continued when Villanueva took office.
Villanueva reassured the populace that every effort is being made to safeguard the livelihood for its 5,000 employees.
The indigenous groups that had permitted Philsaga to operate in their ancestral territory, as well as the host and nearby villages, were specifically urged to lend their support. He also appealed to the workers’ families.
In order to preserve the business and the way of life of the residents of Agusan del Sur, he also requested assistance from the military, police, and local governments at the province, municipal, and barangay levels.