CHR probes possible human-rights abuses during anti-mining protests in Sibuyan
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday announced that it would investigate the potential human rights violations on Sibuyan Island, Romblon.
The decision followed after videos of police dispersing an anti-mining barricade were posted online.
Sibuyan residents had been blocking the entry of trucks from the Altai Philippines Mining Company (APMC) for a few days, but Philippine National Police officers were instructed to clear the crowd on February 3, resulting in two people sustaining injuries.
The Commission “has taken cognizance of the case and is doing a motu proprio investigation of this incident through CHR’s Investigation Office and CHR Region IV-B.”
According to the CHR, it has also received a complaint in September 2022 alleging that the APMC harassed and intimidated anti-mining advocates on Sibuyan Island.
“Victims claimed that the company barred teachers from participating in anti-mining gatherings and even refrained them from posting anti-mining sentiments online. Two students were also allegedly brought to the barangay and were forced to issue a public apology. The investigation is still ongoing,” said the CHR.
The CHR said that it is working with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Ports Authority as it conducts the investigation.
The DENR has previously issued a cease and desist order to the APMC as its provincial branch also investigates possible environmental damages caused by the allegedly illegal mining operation.
However, Sen. Risa Hontiveros went to the island herself and found that there was still movement in the mining operations. She has since urged her colleagues in the Senate to open an inquiry into the case.