A board member of Palawan has urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to revoke the mining permit of Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) for alleged violation of environment protection laws and disrespecting local government officials.
Board Member Eduardo Modesto Rodriguez addressed his call to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu through a resolution he filed this week in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).
Rodriguez warned that allowing the validity of the INC’s mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) “will cause long-term adverse effects to the agricultural livelihood of over 500 farmers in Brooke’s Point, where it is located”.
The mining operation of INC, Rodriguez explained, covers a watershed that is very important to the farming activities of surrounding residents.
“This is in support to the town of Brooke’s Point that does not want it, and an expression of my own sentiment. Mining should not be allowed in watershed areas,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also expressed concern with the allegation raised by Brooke’s Point Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano’s claiming that some officials of Barangay Maasin had accepted bribes amounting to P25,000 each for their endorsement of a resolution favoring mining operations.
“It’s not merely about the tax issue as said by President Rodrigo Duterte, it’s the protection of the environment in Brooke’s Point,” Rodriguez stated, supplying that the cancellation of INC’s MPSA has been the request of the Maasin and New Panay Irrigators Association (NPIA).
He said that part of the mining tenement of the company is included in the 120,000-hectare Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL).
The MMPL is the “largest terrestrial protected area in southern Palawan that provides an essential watershed for 200,000 people who depend on it for agriculture, drinking water and livelihoods,” according to Conservation International (CI).
“For me personally, there should be no mining activities in Brooke’s Point. Imagine, despite the fact that they have been told to stop mining, they’re continuing with their activities there. They’ve widened the road… and they’re completely ignoring the complaints,” he said.
The INC, he said, even aggravated its violations by also disrespecting and directly defying Mayor Feliciano, who was recently denied entry by the mining corporation’s management in its premises.
In December 2016, the DENR cancelled the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of the INC, an affiliate of Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc. (GFHI).
This year in May, the DENR also cancelled the tree cutting permit of the said mining company involving 352 hectares of land.
It was ordered by Cimatu after Mayor Feliciano filed a complaint that claimed the INC illegal cut and earth-balled around 7,000 trees in a 30-hectare land area covered by its MPSA.
This month, the DENR filed a criminal charge against the nickel miner at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) for rampant illegal cutting of trees in Brooke’s Point.
Rodriguez’ filed resolution was referred to the Committee on Environment for further discussion.