The provincial government will not meddle on the Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) controversy amidst the strong opposition led by its town mayor.
Winston Arzaga, provincial information officer, on Monday said that the provincial government will wait to know if Ipilan can open and operate again from the Office of the President where it has an appeal.
“May ongoing appeal ang Ipilan [mining] sa presidente. Hindi naman natin puwedeng pangunahan ‘yon,” he said.
Mayor Jean Feliciano visited the mining site a few days ago to verify complaints raised by the local residents. Certain allegations placed the INC back in hot waters after the mining company was said to be in full operation despite its lack of necessary permits.
“Hindi talaga sila marunong sumunod at walang nirerespetong authority. [Nakita naming] fresh pa ang mga bungkal na lupa,” Feliciano said in a press statement.
On July 2017, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) filed a suit against INC for its “massive indiscriminate tree cutting” despite the cancellation of its environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
Subsequently, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) revoked the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance it previously issued to the mining firm which resulted in its closure in February 2018.
Earlier this year, claims were asserted that the INC is “continuously destroying the environment” which prompted Feliciano to pay a visit.
Prior to the mayor’s arrival on-site on December 2, the company had armed guards and barricaded its entrance with a truck blocking Feliciano’s group arrival. The guards eventually let the mayor and her envoy inside the compound which confirmed said allegations.
Feliciano, who is a lawyer and an anti-mining advocate, maintained being unfazed and was armed for a legal battle with the mining firm.
“I’m ready to face the cases they will file against me just to save our exceptional environment and the lives and livelihoods of my constituents,” Feliciano said.
As of press time, INC has yet to issue a statement about the issue despite multiple attempts for an interview.