Bishop: Palawan mining a big blow to environmental protection

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Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

The Catholic Church expressed disappointment over the cutting of more than 15,000 trees in Palawan by a mining company, which did not have the necessary permits from the local government.

READ: Palawan town to sue miner for clearing forest

Bishop Socrates Mesiona of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa told Radyo Veritas that Palawan is considered the Philippines’ “last frontier.” He said Palawan’s natural resources should be preserved.

Mesiona said local residents depend on the trees for their daily living, especially since the trees serve as a watershed of Brooke’s Point.

Meanwhile, the Church praised the community for being united and in one to oppose the operations of the Ipilan Nickel Corporation, the mining company that cleared the trees. Ipilan is an affiliate company of Global Ferronickel Holdings Incorporated.

“Mabuti naman at ang mga tao talaga mismo ang lumalaban kasi na-realize din nila na talagang mahalaga yung [kalikasan],” the bishop said.

(It’s good that the people are the ones fighting because they have realized that the environment is important.)

Meanwhile, environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said the controversy serves as a “litmus test” for recently appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

The group demanded the closure and suspension orders against big mining projects – including the Ipilan mining project in Palawan.

“We demand Cimatu to uphold the historic mine closures and other initial reforms begun by the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) through the marching orders of President Rodrigo Duterte himself,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

“If Cimatu claims that he will maintain a ‘status quo’ on his predecessor’s mine closure orders, he should immediately revoke the mining permit of Global Ferronickel and fully close its mining operation,” he added. Eiriel Rain Dollete/INQUIRER.net trainee/JPV

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