Petition link: Petição Nº 136/XIII/1 - Objeção à atribuição de uma licença de TUPEM ao consórcio Galp/ENI para a actividade de perfuração de pesquisa na área 233 designada por Santola na Bacia do Alentejo (Aljezur)
COPY OF OUR LETTER (ORIGINAL IN PORTUGUESE)
Divisão de Apoio às Comissões
Palácio de São Bento
Dear Helder Amaral
RE: Petição Nº 136/XIII/1 - Objeção à atribuição de uma licença de TUPEM ao consórcio Galp/ENI para a actividade de perfuração de pesquisa na área 233 designada por Santola na Bacia do Alentejo (Aljezur)
Your letter dated 13 January 2017 received on 19 January refers.
We take note that you have “PROPOSED” the 2nd of February as a date for an audience.
We also place on record, that you acknowledged that we reserved the right to expect a reply from the Minister of the Sea and the DGRM before confirming our attendance on your “PROPOSED” date. You also state in your letter that not all requests for information by a petition enquiry committee to various authorities are always responded to.
We take note of such circumstances, but at the same time it is clear that many are responded to.
In view thereof, and based on the seriousness of the matter at hand, we view such responses as being fundamental to the fair, transparent and equitable management process of above-mentioned petition evaluation, and we believe it to be our right to have such expectations.
We are however confused, because in your second last paragraph you refer to article 23 (2) that states:
“The unjustified non-attendance by petitionaries may result in the archiving of the process, in terms of article 16 (3) … “
- If your date is in fact a “PROPOSED” date or if it is a “MANDATORY” date?
- If it is “PROPOSED”, can this date be moved to a later date?
- What do you classify as “UNJUSTIFIABLE” in this current situation?
In a spirit of collaboration, we need clarification, as it is our understanding that any action that is “PROPOSED” means a suggestion of, and is not a final resolution, and if demanding the right to expect a response constitutes an “UNJUSTIFIABLE” demand instead of a right? Could you please clarify above questions so as to remove all ambiguity of interpretation?
We confirm and place on record that it is our intent to take part in an audience at a date to be confirmed and mutually agreed to by all parties, and that under no circumstances are the petitioners waiving this right.
However, we once again place on record that we are of the opinion that it is our right to want to have a written reply from both the Minister and the DGRM, especially taking into account that our petition is addressed to not ONLY the Portuguese Parliament but also to the DGRM; and that copies of the petition was delivered by hand on 22 June 2016 to both. We further place on record that to date no information or reply has been forthcoming from the DGRM in writing since date of delivery of the petition.
We are of the opinion that we have the right to reserve our RIGHT to information, and that we view the absence of replies as an infringement of the democratic and constitutional right of all signatories to the petition to have access to information and to the reasonable expectation that both the Minister and the DGRM will view the matter in the seriousness that it deserves and replies to your requests for information.
We deem this information to be of a critical nature, and pertinent to the petition objectives, and that we are within our rights to expect an opportunity to read such replies. As a result, we appeal that you once again request a reply from the above-mentioned offices (The Minister of the Sea and from the DGRM) as soon as possible so as to enable us to fully represent the interests of the people that signed the petition.
It is our opinion, that the lack of response to petitions in the past does not give it legitimacy nor should it make it standard procedure. Instead it rather begs to ask more questions, as we view such actions, as an infringement of all the petitioners constitutional rights of access to information, which can be argued as being pertinent for informed decision and/or opinion making.
We wish to bring to your attention, that we have now launched a new petition where petitioners request that both the Minister and the DGRM do the right thing and submit written replies to your commission requests for information.
In conclusion, under no circumnstances may it be assumed that we are waving any of our rights away. In fact we reserve all of our rights enshrined in the constitution, which include the constitutional right to be awarded the opportunity to have a meeting and to submit during such a meeting further information, to ask questions, and to answer questions relevant to the subject matter of above-mentioned petition.
We look forward to your reply.
SIGN THE PETITION
On 22 June 2016 – ASMAA presented a petition with 26, 576 signatures to the Portuguese Parliament and to the offices of the DGRM in Lisbon.
On 19 July 2016 – the petition to Portuguese Parliament was accepted.
On 6 December 2016 – MP Hugo Costa (PS) was appointed as the responsible person (moderator) on behalf of Petition Assessment Division in the Portuguese Parliament.
On 14 December 2016 - the President of the “Divisão de Apoio às Comissões” in the Portuguese Parliament, Mr. Helder Amaral requested the submission of additional information about the objections raised by petition “Petição Nº 136/XIII/1” From the Ministry of the Finance, Ministry of the Sea and from the DGRM (Direção Geral dos Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Maritimos. (Ref Number: 288/CEIOP
On 30 December 2016 - the Ministry of Finance replied in writing (attached) that in their opinion the information requested was integrated within the portfolio of the Sea Ministry who where in a better position to deal with the matter at hand.
On 12 January 2017 - ASMAA received notification via email that a provisional date of 2 February 2017 had been reserved for a meeting at the Portuguese Parliament subject to ASMAA availability on that date.
On 12 January 2017 - ASMAA replied back, that in their opinion, the planned meeting was premature due to the fact that neither the Minister of the Sea nor the Director of the DGRM had as yet submitted any written replies to requests for information submitted by the Petition Assessment Committee.
On 12 January 2017 - ASMAA received further communication that information requested was already on the Parliament Petition Page.
On 12 January 2017 - ASMAA replied that that information of submission by the Minister of the Sea or the DGRM was not on the site, and that we are of the opinion that it is important to have such replies before confirming availability for the suggested meeting. This information is a right under the Portuguese Constitution and under European rights to disclosure of information.
On 19 January 2017 - ASMAA received via registered mail, notification that the Commission was prepared to ignore the lack of response by the minister and by the DGRM and intimated that failure by ASMAA to be present on suggested date (2 February 2017) would result in the petition being archived.
On 23 January 2017 - ASMAA replied to the Petition Commission that in our opinion such actions are not acceptable and that it is the right of all petition signatories to have the opportunity to evaluate written replies to requests for information before agreeing to a meeting, as we are of the opinion that it is a right, especially due to the fact that the DGRM has failed to address the petition objections submitted to them on the same day as it was submitted to the Portuguese parliament, namely the 22 June 2016. In the same letter we stated that all rights where reserved, and that it was our intent to be present at a meeting at a date mutually acceptable and agreed to.