[Press Release] Palawan groups, communities say no to Lebach Mining endorsement by SB – ATM

Palawan groups, communities say no to Lebach Mining endorsement by SB
Mayor’s decision and signed rejection by barangay LGU should be upheld

Manila—Groups and indigenous communities in Palawan are anxious that the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of the Municipality of Brooke’s Point signed a resolution in December 12 endorsing Lebach Mining Corporation despite the lack of legal documents from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Immediately, the Barangay Ipilan Officials—Ipilian being one of the direct impact-area of the mining operation—signed and released the rejection of said SB resolution and the mining project.

Meanwhile, Ancestral Land Domain Watch Network chairman and Barangay Kagawad Artiso Mandawa said, “The presence of LEBACH in Brooke’s Point is illegal because of the fake documents they submitted to NCIP.

Patuloy din ang harassment na ginagawa nila sa community at ilang mga official ng Barangay. Sinusuhulan ang mga endorsing agancy tulad ng Sanguniang Bayan ng Brooke’s Point.”(They still continue to harass communities and even barangay officials. They also bribe endorsing agencies like the SB of Brooke’s Point.)

Lebach mining operations will affect ancestral domains and agricultural lands. It will also cause the demolition of the four schools, namely, Rizal Elementary School in Bgy. Mambalot,
Linao Elementary School in Bgy. Ipilan, Danadio Elementary School in Bgy. Barong-barong, and Tula-tula Primary School also in Bgy. Ipilan.

“The mining tenement of Lebach covers agricultural and ancestral lands, meaning it is necessary for Lebach or any other mining company to secure a genuine free prior and informed consent from affected indigenous communities. However, it seems that despite the lack of this requirement, the SB is very excited to allow Lebach to mine the pristine forests and lands in Brooke’s Point,” added Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.

Meanwhile, lawyers in Palawan are carefully watching at how the local governments will address the different issues surrounding the proposed mining operation.

Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda, assistant executive director of Palawan-based Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc said, “Just before Christmas 2011, Mayor Leoncio of Brooke’s Point vetoed the SB resolution for being “ultra vires” on the ground that Lebach Mining has not complied with the provisions of IPRA law, that allowing the project would violate the right of the people to a healthy environment and would contravene the general welfare provisions of the law. The SB must therefore revisit their resolution, otherwise, the local communities will hold them accountable for their failure to uphold existing laws.”

Garganera concluded, “For Lebach, we think they should stand by and keep still in beginning any of their operations while the local government units sort this concern.”

Palawan, the Last Frontier of the Philippines has its own Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP Law a.k.a. Republic Act No. 7611) that addresses regulations referring to environmentally critical areas network (ECAN) of the province composed of the terrestrial or forestlands, marine or coastal area, and ancestral lands. Communities allege that portions of the Lebach mining tenement encroach ‘restricted zones’ and even watershed areas.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.

For more information:
Artiso Mandawa, ALDAW Chairman, (0905) 614.56.31 <aldawnetwork@gmail.com>
Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda, ELAC Assistant Executive Director, <gerthiem@yahoo.com>
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02 <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy&Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61 <policy@alyansatigilmina.net>

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