PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 10 – The municipal government of Brooke’s Point, southern Palawan, is poised to sue the controversial Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) for alleged illegal mining operations.
In local interviews with the media, Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano said the criminal case they will file against the INC is different from the cases earlier filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which were about violations of the Forestry Code of the Philippines and the Chainsaw Act.
“The cases filed in court were about infringements of the Forestry Code and the Chainsaw Act, and focused only on the officials of the company. What I want in the case we will file is to include even the security personnel. It will be wide in scope, and specific,” she said.
The Brooke’s Point mayor’s disclosure came in the wake of Monday’s issuance of a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) by the Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) against INC based on complaints by tribal leaders and affected farmers of the said town.
The criminal case, she furthered, is aside from focusing on the lengthening of the TEPO, which will be heard on August 10-11.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, meanwhile, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Director Roland de Jesus said the recent decision of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to cancel the Strategic Environment Plan (SEP) clearance will be raised to the DENR.
“It is actually a new development in the case of the INC that we will, of course, forward to the DENR Central Office,” adding it is the one that issued the INC its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA). De Jesus refused to comment further on the matter to prevent hampering the DENR Central Office’s evaluation. On the TEPO, De Jesus told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that he has not yet seen a copy.
“I cannot comment on it because I don’t have a copy yet,” he said. On Monday this week, RTC Branch 165 under Judge Ramon Chito Mendoza ordered a TEPO against the INC to cease and desist from cutting down trees, road widening, and other mining activities in Barangays Maasin and Ipilan.
It also ordered the INC to undertake initial rehabilitation measures and restoration of the destroyed forest areas. (with reports from Catherine Santos/PNA)