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TVI Resources Development Phils. (TVIRD), a subsidiary of a Canadian mining company, on Monday denounced renewed attempts by some people to malign its reputation by allegedly circulating fabricated e-mail implicating the company in a murder conspiracy of certain illegal miners in Western Mindanao.
TVIRD Public Affairs Director Gene Gregorio announced that the company has filed charges of libel and falsification of public documents against a councilor of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, and two other persons who were allegedly behind the circulation of the electronic mail.
Charged before the Makati City Prosecutors’ Office was Bayog Councilor Julieto Monding, who is also an official of the Monte de Oro Small-Scale Miners Association (Mossma); former TVIRD employee Joel Cayabyab and Edgar Baling, also a Mossma official.
The company accused the three of conspiring in circulating a series of “fraudulent letters” that maliciously tagged the mining company’s executives and other people in the shooting of a group of small-scale miners.
“It was a clear dirty-tricks operation using fake e-mail to criminally misrepresent TVIRD and mislead no less than President Aquino and other top government officials,” Gregorio added.
“TVIRD strongly denies involvement in this and any criminal act. We are a legitimate affiliate of a multimillion-dollar publicly listed business. Our business practices here and in various parts of the world are beyond reproach,” he added.
TVIRD filed the charges after the National Bureau of Investigation had confirmed that the e-mail did not come from the mining company.
The company sought the assistance of the NBI in analyzing and determining the authenticity of the e-mail which made it appear that TVIRD officials had a hand in the shooting of several small-scale miners that resulted in the death of one miner and the wounding of several others.
Aside from the NBI, it also sought the services of Pacific Strategies and Assessments (PSA), an international private risk-assessment and security agency, to separately run a check on the questioned e-mail.
Records showed that on May 14, the NBI received the mining company’s complaint requesting an investigation on the fabricated e-mail, which claimed that the company was supposedly planning “silent attacks” against small-scale miners in Balabag, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur.
TVIRD said members of Mossma sent the malicious e-mail to the military and government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) and members of the media.
Retired Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Cayton, TVIRD security director, told the NBI that the officials of the company were being targeted by the fabricated e-mail so that small-scale mining operators would have the control of all the mining operations in the Balabag-Bayog area, in Zamboanga del Sur, which is believed to be rich in natural minerals.
Citing a source, the TVIRD representatives said the group responsible for circulating fabricated stories in the Internet was being backed by a former mayor, who was a known mining operator.
When asked by reporters about the identity of the former mayor, Gregorio said, “the firm had not yet gathered sufficient evidence against that politician.”
TVIRD’s lawyer, former Environment Secretary Fulgencio Factoran Jr., said the circulation of the fake e-mail was a “clear dirty tricks operation… to criminally represent TVIRD and mislead no other than President Aquino and other top government officials.”
A representative from PSA, following its own investigation, has also ruled that the e-mail were “spurious documents.”
“A number of the ‘suspect documents’ were copies of actual TVIRD e-mail that had been fraudulently amended from their original text,” the PSA said.
“None of these ‘suspect documents’ were generated or distributed from within the TVIRD computer systems,” it added.
In both reports, the NBI and PSA noted defects in the e-mail that made them question the documents’ authenticity.
These included glaring defects such as inconsistencies between the graphic interphase in the e-mail printouts and the real or actual e-mail of TVIRD from its e-mail system and provider; significant differences in domain addresses used in the fake e-mail and with real TVIRD e-mail; inconsistencies with date and time stamp formats and other e-mail protocols used in the fake and real e-mail; and language, syntax and even grammatical inconsistencies.
TVIRD is a subsidiary of Canadian mining company TVI Pacific Inc., which was given a mineral production sharing agreement approved by the DENR for the development of 4,779 hectares in the Balabag area.
It has also obtained an environmental compliance certificate and has invested more than $15.5 million in the exploration of gold and silver deposits at the site.
TVIRD’s operation in the area has been opposed by several small-scale miners despite the former’s settlement offer for them to relocate.
These small-scale miners organized Mossma and demanded that a portion of the mine site that was granted to TVIRD segregated and declared people’s small-scale mining area.
TVIRD insisted that the claim of Mossma is illegitimate and that their operations are illegal and damaging to the local community.
Subsequently, the MGB had issued an order for the small-scale miners to halt operations in the Balabag area.
The PSA noted that the circulation of the fake e-mail came after the MGB’s issuance of the order.