Climate and Environment

NCIP issues cease-and-desist order vs miner in Palawan

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
NCIP issues cease-and-desist order vs miner in Palawan
Residents of Brooke's Point, Palawan form a human barricade to block the entry of mining company Ipilan Nickel Corporation, Feb. 18, 2023.

MANILA, Philippines — The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples ordered a mining firm to stop its operations in southern Palawan after failing to secure the required certification precondition and consent from indigenous peoples affected by the extraction of nickel ore from their ancestral lands. 

In an order dated August 11, NCIP Mimaropa Regional Director Marie Grace Pascua ordered Celestial Nickel Mining Corp. and its operator, Ipilan Nickel Corp., to immediately cease and desist from mining nickel ore in Brooke’s Point town.

They were given five days after the receipt of the cease-and-desist order “to wind up operation and install safety protocols so as not to endanger the community” and “completely cease operation.”

According to the NCIP, the order will only be lifted once CNMEC/INC submits proof that it secured certification precondition and the free, prior, and informed consent of Pala’wan indigenous peoples. 

In June, the commission received a resolution of non-consent from Pala’wan indigenous peoples, citing as grounds the alleged lack of respect of INC, material misrepresentation during FPIC process, and bribery of community leaders and members. 

The NCIP also said the results of their validation activities “clearly show the true sentiments of the indigenous peoples against the operation of CNMEC/INC within their ancestral domain and their dissent to the earlier memorandum of agreements that were executed.” It added that CNMEC/INC is not exempted from royalty payment.

INC commenced commercial operations in September 2022. Philstar.com sought the comment of Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc., which operates INC, but it has yet to respond. 

Hope for mining-affected communities

Environmental and IP rights groups called issuance of the cease-and-desist order a victory.

“The CDO gives us hope that the mining companies will be held accountable for their violations and illegal activities,” said Mamilmar Dubria of Samahan ng Katutubong Kabataan. 

Lawyer Gerthie Mayo-Anda, executive director of Palawan-based Environmental Legal Assistance Center, said the immediate implementation of the order is “very critical” to addressing the displacement of indigenous peoples and deforestation of their ancestral territory.

“Since 2017, thousands of trees have been cut inside their sacred grounds and watersheds. The continuing threat to the IPs’ livelihood, culture and food security needs to be addressed,” Mayo-Anda said.

Early this year, residents of Brooke’s Point set up a barricade in front of INC’s mining site to prevent the transport of nickel ore. The barricade was inspired by the fight of Sibuyan Island residents whose resistance to nickel extraction highlighted the dangers that mining poses to the environment and host communities.

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