Brooke’s Point Mayor Cesareo Benedito Jr. said he is ready to face the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) complaints filed against him by Ipilan Nickel Corporation for alleged “intentional” non-issuance of necessary permits to the mining firm.

In an interview with Palawan News, Benedito said that he is yet to receive a copy of the complaint .

“Wala pa naman akong natatanggap na subpoena, pero ganoon pa man kung sakali ay nakahanda naman akong sagutin kapag may dumating sa akin” he said.

Meanwhile, Remie Mostiero, chief of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO), said that she received a letter from Ipilan Nickel on March 1 contesting her office’s decision not to give certification for their permit renewal.

In a response letter signed by Mostiero and Benedito, the two underscored the failure of the mining company to present updated requirements, such as the amended Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), which was issued in 2000 and impact barangay endorsement issued in 2007.

According to Mostiero, failing to meet these requirements violates the latest local government guidelines.

Ipilan Nickel also failed to secure endorsements from barangays Ipilan, Maasin, Mambalot, and Calasaguen. They also allegedly failed to provide a Sangguniang Bayan endorsement, Sangguniang Panlalawigan endorsement, ECAN endorsement, SEP clearance and MENRO certification.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR MGB) clarified in February that Ipilan Nickel’s “exclusive right” to perform mining activities in its contract area in Brooke’s Point is valid until April 2025.

MGB regional director Engr. Glen Marcelo Noble clarified the situation on February 21 in a letter to Brooke’s Point Vice Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano.

Noble underlined that the MPSA did not expire on August 5, 2018, as it was revised on April 10, 2000, to conform to Republic Act (RA) 7942, commonly known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

DENR issued an order on December 21, 2021, resolving the problem of when the MPSA will take effect, noting that the date of the identical sharing agreement will be computed from the date that the amended copy is signed.

He claimed that Ipilan Nickel is not required to obtain a CP, as this obligation only applies to applications submitted after the adoption of RA 8371, or the 1997 Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. He cited a letter from the NCIP dated March 31, 2006, claiming that the mining firm is no longer covered because it received an MPSA four years before, on August 5, 1993. (with a report from Marialen Archie)