Two prominent bishops have joined the call for Ipilan Nickel Corporation to end mining operations in Brooke’s Point, Palawan and sided with rallyists who were violently dispersed while holding a protest against the firm.
In a joint pastoral statement, Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Apostolic Vicariate of Tanay and Bishop Socrates Mesiona of the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa strongly condemned the violence that occurred during the April 14 rally of advocates.
Ipilan Nickel reportedly sought the help of 30 policemen to illegally disperse the rallyists, resulting in injuries for some of them.
“Rather than fully complying with the rule of law, Ipilan Nickel Corporation acted in blatant defiance of the law by continuously operating its mine. Worse, the company took the law into its own hands by deploying its large private security force in violently dispersing the peaceful rallyists,” the bishops said.
Pabillo and Mesiona said the rallyists have the “legitimate demand” to call for an end to Ipilan Nickel’s operations, especially after its permit to operate from the mayor’s office expired on February 1, 2023. The local government of Brooke’s Point has issued a cease and desist order against the company, a subsidiary of Global Ferronickel owned by bilyonaryo Joseph Sy.
“They have been peacefully protesting against the destructive mining in Brooke’s Point encroaching on Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape for the benefit of a few, rich and powerful vested interests who are not even from Palawan,” the bishops said.
An online signature campaign by one Sophia Caralde calling for an end to mining operations in Palawan has garnered the support of 850 netizens in a couple of days.
The petition, which is addressed to the national government and the local government of Palawan, stressed the urgency of saving forests in the province known as the Philippines’ last ecological frontier.
“The Save Palawan Movement believes that extractive projects that have threatened and continue to threaten Palawan’s natural forests must not be allowed to continue,” the petition read.
“More than 20 years of mining in Southern Palawan has proved that a significant number of forests destroyed have not been rehabilitated, the farmlands inundated with nickel laterite have not been restored, and the threats to biodiversity, livelihood, and health have not been addressed,” the Save Palawan Movement added.