Romblon execs urge P-Noy to stop Sibuyan mine contract
LOCAL executives and anti-mining groups in Romblon are asking President Aquino to revoke a contract that allowed mineral exploration on Sibuyan island, saying it was another “midnight deal” signed during the previous administration.
The contract refers to the 25-year Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) the government entered into with the Altai Philippines Mining Corp. (APMC) and its subsidiary Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corp. (SNPDC) in 2009.
The only approved mining permit on Sibuyan Island, the agreement allowed the exploration for nickel of over 1,700 hectares in San Fernando, one of the three towns on the island.
San Fernando Mayor Dindo Rios, in a phone interview on Friday, said they have been opposing the MPSA saying it was a “midnight deal” that was signed only a few days before former Environment Secretary Lito Atienza stepped down from office and ran for mayor of Manila in the 2010 elections.
The Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment/ Sibuyanons Against Mining (Sibuyan ISLE/SAM), in a separate statement, also lamented that “the mining permit did not pass through formal and transparent processes at the barangay level.”
At the time of its approval, the MPSA was not even endorsed by the municipal government because the company failed to submit requirements formally requested by the municipal council, said the Sibuyan ISLE/SAM.
“We already sent (appeal) letters directly to (President Aquino) and some were coursed through the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines),” Rios said.
Anti-mining advocate Gina Lopez had also visited the island thrice in the past month and expressed support to ban large-scale mining on Sibuyan.
Rios, however, said they had not received any response from Malacañang yet, but “we are pretty sure the President will heed the people’s call, just like what he had done (when he cancelled the mining applications) in Palawan.”
Rolando de Jesus, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) clarified that APMC’s permit was only for exploration—the first of the five-stage mining operation.
“(The company) had not even started (exploring) yet because of the (local) opposition,” he said. With a report from Madonna Virola, Inquirer Southern Luzon
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