Environmental activists welcomed the decision of the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to stop the operations of a mining company on the island of Sibuyan in the province of Romblon.
“The DENR Order suspending the current operations of [Altai Philippines Mining Corporation] is a clear victory for the people of Sibuyan,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of the group Alyansa Tigil Mina.
The group said, however, that “without the firm resistance” of the residents and environmental defenders, “we doubt if the DENR will lift a finger on the violations of the APMC.”
“However, the struggle of the Sibuyanons is far from over as they are strongly demanding the revocation of APMC’s Mineral Production Sharing Agreement,” said Garganera.
Aside from a “Cease and Desist Order,” the DENR also ordered the suspension of APMC’s Ore Transport Permit, stopping the transportation of ore from the contract site to the causeway, the denial of the APMC’s application for Miscellaneous Lease Agreement, for PENRO to file appropriate legal actions, if warranted, on cutting of trees without permit, and PENRO to conduct investigation on the potentially damaged sea grass and other marine resources.
“This is just one of the fruits of the barricade with the tireless and unselfish people who have been joining and supporting us for the last fourteen days,” said Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si.
“We appreciate the action by the [DENR] but we will not leave the barricade until the Exploration Permit and Mineral Production Sharing Agreement are revoked,” he added.
Galicha also said that they will “exhaust all administrative and legal means to defend Sibuyan Island and end the abuses and disrespect to our communities.”
Elizabeth Ibañez, coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining, is skeptical, however, about the DENR’s order.
She said that if the department is really serious about protecting the rights and respecting the will of the people of Sibuyan, it should “revoke the Exploration Permit and MPSA of APMC once and for all.”
Altai Philippines Mining Corp. said it is stopping its “exploration and testing activities” in Sibuyan Island that prompted residents last week to put up a barricade to register their opposition to mining.
“We have decided to voluntarily halt all exploration and testing activities in Sibuyan Island and to continue our full cooperation and coordination with the relevant authorities to address any concerns or issues that have been raised,” read an AMPC statement.
The company said that maintaining peace and order and ensuring the concerns and welfare of the residents of the island are their priority.
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders to resolve any outstanding concerns,” it said.