In this file photo, a team of first responders is seen clearing debris from a flooded river in the town of Brooke's Point following massive flooding on January 4, 2023.

The mining firm Ipilan Nickel Corporation has vowed to pursue legal remedies to continue operations in Brooke’s Point, after Mayor Cesareo Benedito Jr. announced he would not renew its business permit this year.

The company said it is committed to working hand-in-hand with the municipal government and its regulators in Brgy. Maasin to carry out its mining project.

“The company is very much cautious and mindful of our obligations and the deadlines of our compliances to our regulators. We protect the source of living of our almost 1,500 employees and we desire to continuously serve the community and contribute to its economic growth, hence, we make sure to act in accordance with all the mandates of our regulators,” Ipilan Nickel stated.

This arose after Mayor Benedito stated on January 6 during a meeting of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) that Ipilan Nickel will no longer be issued a business permit this year.

Benedito blamed quarrying operations in rivers, tree-cutting activities by slash-and-burn (kaingin) farmers in the town, faulty drainage system, and Ipilan Nickel’s mining operations for last week’s flooding when southern Palawan was hit with heavy rains.

He claimed that the mining company’s tree-cutting activities in prior years also contributed to the flooding.

Benedito also issued a memorandum order dated January 3, 2023, addressed to Ipilan Nickel officer-in-charge resident mine manager Alex Arabis, ordering the company to cease operations “effective immediately” until such time it has secured the renewal its business permit.

“Nag-expire na ang permit to operate ng Ipilan Nickel Mining noong January 31, 2022, kaya hindi ko na sila bibigyan ng permit. Hindi ko tinitingnan ang anti-mining o pro-mining, kundi gagawin natin ang makabubuti sa bayan ng Brooke’s Point,” Benedito said.

Ipilan Nickel stated that they have sent their letter responding to the notice sent by Benedito, and that they will utilize their legal options to prevent a complete ban, citing Ordinance No. 2020-43, or the Municipal Revenue Code.

The company specifically mentioned Section 3A.05 of the ordinance, which states that “a mayor’s permit has a continuing validity until its renewal within the first 20 days of January of each year.”

It said that it is in accordance with Section 167 of the Local Government Code, which requires the payment of “all taxes, fees, and charges” within the first 20 days of January or of each subsequent quarter, as the case may be.

Ipilan Nickel said it should not be singled out by the memorandum order and that instead, all businesses in the town must cease operations immediately after December 31, 2022.

It further explained that such a scenario would create confusion and absurdity in a community that is still reeling from the pandemic’s economic repercussions.

It added that the company views the timing of the memo’s issuance as malicious because it was dated and served immediately “after the long holidays and at a time when low-pressure weather was threatening the municipality.”

“While we submit to the local ordinances of the LGU of Brooke’s Point, we also give utmost consideration to the national laws and guidelines governing our operations,” Ipilan Nickel stated.

“The Ipilan Nickel Project is a joint public-private enterprise between the Republic of the Philippines,as principal, and its chosen contractor. Thus, as per the statement of our regulators, only the national government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), can cancel the relevant Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) or halt INC’s mineral operations,” it added.

“Thus, as per the statement of our regulators, only the national government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), can cancel the relevant Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) or halt INC’s mineral operations,” it said. (with a report from Marialen Galicia-Allen)

About Post Author

Previous articleLalaking suspek sa pagbebenta ng marijuana, timbog sa buy-bust
Next articleDalawang wanted arestado dahil sa lascivious acts at paglabag sa RA 9262