Brooke’s Point, Palawan – The feisty anti-mining activist mayor of Brooke’s Point, Palawan led a demolition of the facilities of Ipilan Nickel Mining Corporation (INC) in Barangay Maasin on Wednesday, citing her police powers and claiming that the company has no valid permits.
Town mayor Mary Jean Feliciano, accompanied by hundreds of residents from various neighboring barangays and escorted by police and marine soldiers demolished several guard houses including the gates and fences of the mining company, while employees and company officials merely took video footages.
The demolition began at around 10 am and lasted until 7 in the evening. The company had armed guards and had barricaded its entrance with a truck when the group arrived. It’s personnel, however, did not resist when the demolition began.
“Iresponsable, hindi marunong gumalang sa batas, walang sinusunod na batas at awtoridad,” Feliciano told a group of supporters who joined the demolition party.
Ferdinand Labatique, an official of the company who met Feliciano and other local officials upon their arrival at the company’s gates received a written order from the municipality for the demolition.
“Antayin na lang po sana natin ang court order,” Labatique told the group, which proceeded right away to demolish the gate leading to the company premises.
INC had been suspended for cutting trees without a mandatory permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and is facing charges filed by DENR official.
It has also been stripped of its Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance previously issued by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD). Feliciano added that the company has not secured a mayor’s permit.
“Malaking perwisyo itong pagmimina sa amin. Kung dati umaani kami ng 120-150 cavan ngayon ay 50 na lang simula ng magkaroon ng illegal na operasyon sa pagmimina,” Rudy Cataloña, a farmer from Maasin, said.
“Napabilib kami sa advocacy ni Mayor Jean. Matagal na namin itong ipinaglalaban, subalit ngayon nga ay isang katuparan ng lahat ng pinaghirapan namin sa pagpigil sa mina,” Rowena Dalabahan, a Councilor of Barangay Aribungos, told Palawan News.
“Ayaw namin na balang araw ay sisihin kami ng mga kaapu-apuhan kapag hinayaan namin ang pagmimina dito sa Brooke’s Point,” Expectassion Sabuya, a farmer, added.
In a statement issued Thursday, INC resident manager Ferdinand Libatique accused Feliciano of violating the company’s rights and vowed to press charges.
“The mayor, with utter disregard of the rule of law and the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) between the INC and the Philippine Government, has not shown any demolition order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” Ferdinand Libatique, INC resident manager said in a statement.
“Their actions have opened up the entire area to various forms of destruction, pilferage and hazards, as total strangers made their way into the area unimpeded,” the statement said.
“INC is preparing additional criminal, civil and administrative actions to hold the mayor and her companions liable for all the immediate and natural consequences of the forcible entry and destruction of properties,” Libatique said.