THE SUPREME Court (SC) has issued an order against mining activities at Brooke’s Point, an ancestral domain in Palawan province in western Philippines.
In a statement, the high court said it had issued a so-called writ of kalikasan against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Celestial Nickel Mining Exploration Corp. and Ipilan Nickel Corp.
It said the mining operations in the protected ancestral area of Mount Mantalingajan might cause irreparable damage to the environment.
The court ordered the mining companies to provide evidence to dispel the potentially harmful impact of their mining activities on the environment.
“The court found that there is a possibility of serious and irreversible harm to the environment and the inhabitants of Brooke’s Point located in the Mt. Mantalingajan mountain range,” it said.
The mountain range covers the municipalities of Batarza, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Española, Quezon and Rizal in Palawan.
A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy that protects citizens from environmental damage that threatens their life, health or property in two or more cities.
In 1993, the Philippine government, Celestial Mining, and Ipilan signed a shared mineral production deal to conduct mining operations at Brooke’s Point, which would be in effect for 25 years.
The members of the indigenous community of the area, who sought the writ, said the mining companies are barred from operating on the mountain range since it is protected under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, which preserves specific areas from “destructive human exploitation.”
In 2018, Ipilan continued its mining activities in the area despite failing to secure consent from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, which was a condition of the mining agreement’s renewal, the tribunal said.
Two years later, DENR renewed the mining agreement until 2025, which led to the lawsuit before the high court.
“The mining operations of Ipilan Nickel Corp. and Celestial Mining, as exacerbated by the lack of action by the DENR and MGB, place the residents of Brooke’s Point in peril,” the court said.
It said DENR and MGB inaction to address the mining activities showed “indifference to the rights of the indigenous cultural communities to a balanced and healthful ecology.”
In June, the tribunal issued a kalikasan writ against DENR, MGB and Altai Philippines Mining Corp. over harmful mining activities in Sibuyan Island, Romblon. — John Victor D. Ordoñez