2 hurt as cops, antimining protesters clash in Sibuyan
CALAPAN CITY—Two protesters were injured as antimining residents continued to barricade the port of a mining firm in the town of San Fernando on Sibuyan Island, Romblon province, on Friday.
According to the antimining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), about 20 protesters tried to stop three hauling trucks of Altai Philippines Mining Corp. (APMC) that were carrying nickel ore from leaving the port at around 9 a.m.
The protesters formed a human wall, but the trucks forced their way through the barricade, prompting 30 policemen in full antiriot gear to intervene and disperse the residents.
In a video posted on Friday by ATM on its social media pages, two policemen were seen dragging away a protester who tried to get in the way of one of the trucks, while the other protesters were shoved by the policemen to the roadside.
Before the commotion, some of the residents and policemen figured in a verbal confrontation, with the protesters complaining that they were being “harassed” by the cops. Uniformed personnel from the provincial police office also had a confrontation with the protesters on Thursday but no one was hurt in that incident.
Call for suspension
Police authorities in the province could not be reached for comment on Friday. But on Thursday, Police Capt. Richard Obsid, information officer of the Romblon police, asserted that the cops were deployed there to prevent violence during the protest.
Since last week, residents on the island have been opposing what they claim to be an “illegal” mineral exploration by APMC in Sibuyan.
Elizabeth Ibañez, coordinator of environmental group Sibuyanons Against Mining, said they have asked the local government of San Fernando, one of the three towns on the island where the company is based and has built its port, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to suspend APMC’s mining activities.
In an earlier statement, Ibañez said APMC alleged that the company had not obtained the necessary permits and documents for its mineral exploration.
Sibuyan Island, which is known for its rich biodiversity and near pristine environment, is composed of the towns of Cajidiocan, Magdiwang and San Fernando.
On Sunday, the San Fernando municipal government said APMC had permits and documents that were issued by the national government.
According to the San Fernando public information office, Mayor Nanette Tansingco and Vice Mayor Domingo Marin validated the mining firm’s papers after a recent meeting with officials of the regional DENR in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan).
APMC also asserted that its operation was cleared by the DENR and other concerned government agencies.
“We assure the public that APMC’s operations shall remain in accordance with prevailing laws, rules and regulations,” the company said in a statement sent to the Inquirer on Monday.
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