The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has not yet granted the controversial Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) in Brooke’s Point permission to operate.

This was the clarification made by Mary Ann Delos Santos of the NCIP Palawan Friday during the program of the Tactical Operations Wing West (TOW WEST) dubbed “UP UP Palawan”.

De los Santos explained that what the NCIP had granted to INC was merely a Certificate of Precondition to do “mineral exploration”.

“Kasalukuyan pa nilang pinoproseso [ang FPIC] ibig sabihin ay kinikilala nila na mayroong indigenous peoples (IP) doon. Sakop ito ng ancestral domain, may mga anim o walong barangays,” she said.

“Matagal ito kasi hindi ito small scale, dadaan talaga sa proseso at kung ang sakop nito ay 10 barangay ay dadaan pa rin sila doon,” she said.

She said that their central office is now investigating whether the INC is doing exploration or operations since the documents they have acquired only enable them to conduct exploration.

“Mayroon silang dating application na may certificate of precondition na na-issue pero sa exploration ‘yon at hindi sa operation. Sa naunang application nila [na may] certificate of precondition [ibig sabihin] ay sinangayunan ang exploration. ‘Yon ang inaalam natin kung ang isinasagawa nila ngayon ay exploration or operation na,” she said.

According to Delos Santos, the IP leaders in Brooke’s Point also filed a complaint to NCIP to investigate the activity of Ipilan mining.

“Ito po nireklamo ng ating mga IP leaders, hinihingian natin ng report at photos para makapag-issue tayo ng karampatang [aksyon] kung ano ang report na matanggap,” she said.

However, Delos Santos did not comment on the NCIP’s position on whether Ipilan should operate without the FPIC and NCIP clearances.

Ipilan is one of the country’s largest nickel producer with more than 2,800 hectares of mine site in the province.

“‘Yan ay hindi natin kayang sagutin sa ngayon dahil inaalam pa natin kung ang kanilang isinasagawa ay exploration o operation,” Delos Santos said.

Earlier in August, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) granted a conditional Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance for Ipilan after it was revoked in 2017.

The issue on the controversial mining company also resulted in the suspension of town mayor Mary Jean Feliciano for grave abuse of authority complaint filed by Ipilan.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.