The Catholic bishops of the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa and Taytay in the province of Palawan condemned the reported harassment, arrest, and detention of residents of the town of Brooke’s Point during a demonstration on April 14.
“As our expression of full support and solidarity with the peaceful rallyists in Brooke’s Point, we therefore make these urgent appeal … to respect and protect the constitutional rights of the peaceful rallyists to publicly assemble and protest against the destructive and irresponsible mining in Brooke’s Point and affected areas in Palawan,” read a pastoral statement signed by Bishop Socrates Mesiona of Puerto Princesa and Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Taytay.
The bishops said that rather than fully complying with the rule of law, the mining company Ipilan Nickel Corporation “acted in blatant defiance of the law by continuously operating its mine.”
“Worse, the company took the law into its own hands by deploying its large private security force in violently dispersing the peaceful rallyists,” read the bishops’ statement.
The bishops said the people “have been peacefully rallying against the devastation to their forests, watershed, indigenous lands, farms, and water sources that was causing the enormous loss of their livelihoods and massive flooding in Brooke’s Point.”
They called on the government to immediately stop the operation of the mining company.
Environmental activists earlier reported that residents were protesting the demolition by security personnel of makeshift structures used by the people as a barricade to prevent the operation of the mining company.
At about six o’clock in the morning of April 14, about 200 security guards and 100 personnel of the mining company dismantled the barricades put up by demonstrators in February to stop the operations of the mining company.