DENR orders temporary halt to mining company's Sibuyan operations

DENR orders temporary halt to mining company’s Sibuyan operations

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered a temporary halt to a mining company’s operations in Romblon’s Sibuyan Island due to several alleged violations, Bernadette Reyes reported Sunday on “24 Oras Weekend.”

According to a notice of violation issued by the DENR-Mimaropa Environment Bureau, Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) had violated the implementing rules and regulations of the Water Code of the Philippines.

The DENR alleged that APMC did not have a foreshore lease agreement for a pier, had built a causeway without securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate, and had cut down trees without a permit.

Meanwhile, government and company officials, as well as locals, had met and discussed the situation.

“Nakapag release naman ang DENR ng order na… at nakapagpaskil na ipatigil muna ang operation ng Altai dito. Dahil sa napakaraming biyolasyon,” said Elizabeth Ibanez of Sibuyanon Against Mining.

(The DENR was able to release and post an order that temporarily halts Altai’s operations here because of numerous violations.)

Meanwhile, after Friday’s attempt by police to dismantle a barricade put up by protesters who were objecting to APMC’s operations, Area Police-Southern Luzon commander Police Lieutenant General Rhoderick Armamento said that actions would be taken against the police officers involved in the incident if they receive a complaint. 

In a statement, APMC said they were deeply saddened by the recent hostilities in the vicinity of their mining exploration operations in Sibuyan Island.

“Based on the reports, there were a few incidents involving our employees, law enforcement personnel, and protesters who were purportedly hurt when tensions got out of hand at the site,” said the company.

“We are particularly distressed by the fact that the ideology of these protesters may not be as different from our company’s core values as it would seem. While the full and outright refusal of all mining operations is simply not realistic (nor economically sustainable), Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) is equally opposed to all forms of illegal, reckless, and irresponsible mining.”

APMC added that their operations in Sibuyan began many years before they even set up camp on-site: undertaking comprehensive environmental and socio-economic studies and outcome analyses, consulting with official regulators and agencies, and engaging the surrounding communities, to ensure that their operations would be safe, legitimate, and with minimal environmental effects.

“Given this, we categorically deny all allegations questioning the legality of our Sibuyan operations. Our company has secured all the necessary permits and licenses to lawfully and peacefully conduct our business in the area,” read the company statement.

“Our right to operate is as inviolable as the right to peaceful protest and assembly. For that reason, we repeatedly reached out to the protesters to establish dialogue, and hopefully find common ground. We hoped that we could assure them that our activities are lawful and compliant to government requirements, and fully aligned with global best practices. Unfortunately, these efforts did not bear fruit.”

APMC said that conflict resolution begins when affected parties stay within the clear guidelines set by the law. They assured the public that APMC would continue to strictly and uncompromisingly adhere to all laws pertinent to their activities, for the current exploration and future development, operation, and rehabilitation plans.

“We pray that those who may have grievances against this will observe the same.”

The mining company also said they were committed to ensuring that their mining operations involved and respected all stakeholders, minimized environmental impact, and prioritized a fair division of socio-economic benefits. — DVM, GMA Integrated News

This article DENR orders temporary halt to mining company’s Sibuyan operations was originally published in GMA News Online.

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