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MANILA, Philippines – The regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) for its nickel ore mining operations at Brooke’s Point, Palawan.
Mining at Brooke’s Point has been strongly opposed by residents and indigenous communities, as the mining concession allegedly encroaches on forests and ancestral domains in Palawan. Indigenous people (IP) have complained that the mining activities have damaged their lands and affected their livelihood.
The NCIP gave INC five days to completely stop operations and install safety protocols to avoid harming the community. The resolution was dated August 11, 2023.
Indigenous cultural communities (ICC) in Palawan and anti-mining groups welcomed the NCIP’s decision.
“By this decision, the NCIP-Mimaropa has shown that the voices and will of the IPs can prevail over the interests of the mining companies,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of environmental group Alyansa Tigil Mina.
The CDO is considered by anti-mining advocates a harbinger of better things to come. Victor Colili, a Brooke’s Point councilor, said the NCIP’s decision helps allies in the local government stand firm in their convictions.
“This is the right step towards the non-renewal of the Mineral Sharing Production Agreement for 2025-2050,” said Colili.
Last June, representatives of ICCs in Palawan submitted a resolution of non-consent to the NCIP, citing material misrepresentation during the process of obtaining free, prior and informed consent as well as INC’s alleged bribery of indigenous leaders and members.
On the other hand, INC is now urging NCIP chairperson Allen Capuyan to revoke the CDO. The mining firm had argued that they are exempted from securing the “certificate precondition” issued by the NCIP if a concession does not overlap with an ancestral domain, and if it does, that free, prior and informed consent was properly obtained.
INC said in a statement on Monday, August 14, that the CDO only impedes initiatives “designed to uplift the indigenous community” such as scholarship grants, medical and funeral assistance, and provision of solar panels to residents.
INC also dared the NCIP: “The pivotal question arises: Who truly advocates for the rights and well-being of the IP community?”
In another controversial mining project involving indigenous peoples, anti-mining protesters set up in February 2023 a barricade to block mining trucks of Altai Philippines Mining Coproration in Sibuyan Island, Romblon. – Rappler.com