Pro-environment groups scored a victory against destructive extraction in the central Philippines after the high court issued a “writ of kalikasan” against the proponents.
In a resolution dated June 13, the Supreme Court issued the writ against Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC), the country’s environment department, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) over the nickel mining operations on Sibuyan Island in Romblon province.
Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si Philippines, said the issuance of the writ “is a significant and strategic step to protect Sibuyan Island, its delicate ecosystems, and peaceful peoples.”
A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy designed for the protection of one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment.
Galicha said the plight of the people in Sibuyan “will not end here,” adding, “We will continue to mobilize until all permits and applications to mine the island are revoked.”
Early this year, Sibuyan residents set up a barricade to stop the transport of nickel ore from what they claimed as “illegal mining operations”. On February 3, police in riot gear tried to break the barricade to allow trucks loaded with nickel ore.
“Sibuyanons have been fighting to protect the island since 2015. One had already martyred,” said Galicha who urged the public to join Sibuyan “in this crusade against exploiters”.
In February, the Catholic clergy of Sibuyan warned of “tragic consequences” if the nickel mining project pushed through on the island, often referred to as the “Galapagos of Asia” because of its rich biodiversity.
“Unchecked human activity will have its tragic consequences, running the risk of destroying nature, thus running the risk of destroying humanity,” read the priests’ statement.
“Land is life. Water is life. We only have one world to live in. Let us protect the environment! Let us protect nature! No to mining!” it added.
Also in February, the environment department issued a “cease and desist” order against the mining proponent and ordered the suspension of the company’s Ore Transport Permit.