Firm says mining activity in Palawan town compliant with law
MANILA, Philippines — A mining firm operating at Brooke’s Point, Palawan, has denied allegations it does not have the required permit to do business there.
On Thursday, Ipilan Nickel Corp. (INC) said in an e-mail to INQUIRER.net that its mayor’s permit was issued in Parañaque City where its main office is located. The mayor’s permit was issued on January 30, 2023.
The INC also said it had asked for a mayor’s permit from Brooke’s Point local government in January, but Mayor Cesareo Benedito Jr. denied its request.
But the mining company asserted that technically, it does not necessarily need to get a permit from the Palawan town mayor to operate in Brooke’s Point.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) agreed, noting that INC basically complied with all the legal processes based on existing applicable laws.
“If you do the technical review of whether they complied with the process, they are compliant,” DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Thursday.
But she also admitted that this technicality came from a lapse within the law, which states that a mining company does not need to get a mayor’s permit from the local government that covers the mining area.
“There are national processes that you need to comply with, and then you go downstream and you get the local, okay, and the way the law is written, is you need to get a mayor’s permit from where your head office is,” Yulo-Loyzaga explained.
The DENR chief also said that such a loophole in the law is “one of those gaps that we need to work with.”
“Compliant mining companies who are responsible will work through the local government, and that happens,” Yulo-Loyzaga said.
Brooke’s Point residents have been protesting INC’s mining activities in their locality, arguing that the company does not have a permit from the municipal mayor.
READ: Residents set up anti-mining barricade in Palawan
Since February, tensions intensified between the locals and the mining firm, which even sought a temporary restraining order against Brooke’s Point Mayor Benedito and other anti-mining protesters.
READ: Anti-mining protesters in Brooke’s Point allegedly arrested by police
Yulo-Loyzaga said that the DENR is already talking to all stakeholders to resolve the conflict.
“That’s where the negotiation needs to happen in terms of all stakeholders. [They] need to come together and say that this is what needs to be done. We are of course, personally advocating that local responsibility needs to be established by the mining company and the permitting process,” she said.
The DENR official likewise underscored the importance of acknowledging prior rights as well as protection of the environment while implementing processes under the law.
“You must recognize prior rights, so it’s the DENR’s job to reconcile and negotiate all of these conflicts of interest. That’s not an easy job,” she said.
Brooke’s Point urges DENR to issue cease and desist order vs mining firm
Mining firm sues Sibuyan, Romblon barangay leaders, environmentalists
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.