mining in the Philippines

Palawan indigenous peoples allege DENR official favored mining firm

Iya Gozum

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Palawan indigenous peoples allege DENR official favored mining firm

SOCIAL JUSTICE. Bishop Socrates Mesiona of Puerto Princesa joins an anti-mining protest at Brooke's Point, Palawan, March 7, 2023.

Courtesy of CBCP News

Defending a mining firm despite its alleged violations of the law is tantamount to infraction of indigenous people's rights, the Palawan-based group says in their complaint

MANILA, Philippines – Indigenous people from Brooke’s Point, Palawan, have a filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against former Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Mimaropa regional director Glenn Marcelo Noble for allegedly favoring a company’s “illegal” mining activities.

Julhadi Carim Titte and Renila Dular, leaders of the Pala’wan Indigenous Cultural Communities, filed a criminal complaint against Noble for alleged abuse of power favoring mining firm Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC). Noble is now MGB regional director of Eastern Visayas.

The group decried Noble’s defense of the mining firm despite violations of the law and said this was tantamount to infraction of indigenous people’s rights.

In their complaint, the group said INC had been operating beyond the validity of their mining production sharing agreement (MPSA) and without a Certificate Precondition. They also cited lack of renewed business permit and illegal cutting of trees.

According to a Palawan News report, Noble clarified in a letter addressed to Vice Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano, a staunch anti-mining advocate, that INC was allowed to continue mining operations in Brooke’s Point and was not required to get a Certificate Precondition.

Under the law, a Certificate Precondition is a requirement issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples if a concession, license, or production sharing agreement was found not to overlap with any ancestral domain.

Before mining operations started in their land, residents said they had been living in peace. “Maayos at matiwasay kaming namuhay at nanatili ang aming kultura, mga ritwal, at iba pang gawaing katutubo,” the complaint read. (We were living peacefully. Our culture, our rituals, our indigenous practices were secure.)

Earlier in 2023, environmental advocates and Brooke’s Point residents were urging the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue a cease-and-desist order against INC for operating without a mayor’s permit.

INC has since filed complaints against Brooke’s Point Mayor Cesario Benedicto Jr. and Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office chief Remie Mostiero for delaying the renewal of their business permit.

INC took over Celestial Nickel Mining and Exploration Corporation, the previous MPSA holder in Brooke’s Point. It is a subsidiary of Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc. – Rappler.com

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.