Residents and various environmental organizations scored a victory against destruction extraction after authorities agreed that Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) must cease its mining operation in Sibuyan Island, province of Romblon.
During the dialogue among stakeholders on February 3, the environment department revealed that the mining company has violated several environmental laws including the construction of causeway without Environmental Compliance Certificate and cutting of trees without permit.
The mining company was ordered to “stop further developing the area and avoid unnecessary activities” that would worsen the situation.
Rodne Galicha, a resident of Sibuyan and executive director of Living Laudato Si Philippines, said the notice that was served “is not yet a revocation of their exploration permit nor mineral production agreement (MPSA).”
He urged the national government to review its contract with the mining company, which he said “poses a grave threat not only to the environment but to the people of Sibuyan.”
During the dialogue, the lack of transparency, coordination, and respect of national government agencies to the local government units were discussed.
The national police vowed to investigate and act on the behavior of the deployed team involved in the violent dispersal of protesting residents, who staged a barricade to prevent the mining company from transporting ore.
The residents and environmental activists at the barricade camp were requested to go home, however, they asserted that “a consultation shall be conducted and whatever decision or consensus reached, must be respected.”
As of Saturday afternoon, February 4, “the consensus is to stay at the barricade camp until the barges and the big ship leave and Altai vacates,” said Galicha.
Elizabeth Ibañez, Coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining, said the outcome of the dialogue “can be considered a small victory for the protestors who did not waver in their protest at the barricades and who persisted in demanding that the illegal activities of APMC stop.”
Alyansa Tigil Mina, a network of anti-mining advocates and organizations, lauded the “steadfast resolve” of the residents of Sibuyan against the “illegal operations” of the mining company
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of the group, said the findings that the mining company had four violations “was borne out of the persistence of the protestors at the barricades and can be considered a win among Sibuyan residents and advocates against destructive mining.”
“We congratulate the environmental defenders in Sibuyan who have held their ground in the barricades despite the violent actions of the APMC and the police,” he added.