February 3, 2023

Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 10:55am

A local police officer is seen grabbing a protester who is trying to block the trucks owned by a mining company from entering a private port in Sibuyan Island in this photograph taken on February 3. Residents staged a barricade to protest the alleged illegal mining activities in San Fernando town. Photo by Arjay Barrios/Oeconomedia

Envrionmental groups on Friday morning, February 3, reported that two people were hurt after the local police suppressed the residents from blocking trucks owned by Altai Philippines Mining Company, which were entering a private port in Sibuyan Island, Romblon province. 

Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si Philippines and a local resident of Sibuyan, claimed that there is a “connivance” among the Philippine National Police, local politicians, and the mining company. 

“This act of protecting the mining company is unacceptable knowing that there are violations and deception from the very start they stepped foot on the island. This calls for status quo and multi-sectoral and transparent investigation,” he said. Galicha urged the local authorities “to issue cease and desist order” under the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code of 1991. 

Elizabeth Ibañez, coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining, expressed her disappointment with the local police and government officials saying that authorities “must put the interest of the people and the environment above all things.”

“Hinahanap naming ang tunay na batas sa Sibuyan. Bakit ang mga tumutulong para maipatupad ang batas, lalo na ang pangangalaga sa kalikasan ay siyang tinuturing na kalaban?” she said.

Galicha called on both houses of Congress and the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation. He also demanded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources come to Sibuyan Island “to address all issues and concerns.”

On Wednesday, February 1, Bishop Narciso Abellana of Romblon visited Sibuyan Island residents who put up a human barricade at Sitio Bato, a village in the island’s town of San Fernando, to protest the alleged illegal mining activities of the mining company.

In July last year, Earlier, the prelate called on the public to unite against a proposed mining project on Sibuyan Island in the province.

“Nature gives life, so we must love, serve, and defend it because it is our life… Without nature, there is no life,” he said. “Is mining responsible? Is there responsible mining?” he added. (MZS) – with reports from Alyansa Tigil Mina, Arjay Barrios, and CBCPNews. 

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