Press Release
February 6, 2023

Hontiveros seeks Senate inquiry into mining activities, brief scuffle in Sibuyan island

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 459 urging the Senate to look into nickel and metallic mining activities on Sibuyan Island, Romblon as affected residents continue to set up a human barricade to show their resistance to mining activities in the area.

The resolution comes after reports that at least two residents got injured allegedly because of attempts by local police to forcibly disperse the protestors.

"Hindi dapat nauuwi sa karahasan ang mapayapang pagtutol ng mga residente sa pang-hihimasok ng mga kumpanyang nagmimina sa sarili nilang tahanan. Gusto lamang protektahan ng mga residente ang likas-yaman sa kanilang lugar. The residents are well within their rights to protest ," Hontiveros said.

In PSR No. 459, the senator said that the residents of Sibuyan have been fighting for almost two decades to stop mining exploration on their island. Sibuyan's mineral wealth - specifically nickel -- has made it a mining hotspot.

But the sudden escalation of nickel mining activities in Sibuyan unfolded on September 9, 2021, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) lifted its cease and desist order against Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC). By December 29, 2022, a mineral ore export permit had been issued to APMC, allowing it to bulk test 50,000 metric tons of ore.

However, residents contend that the company failed to secure a barangay clearance, municipal business permit, foreshore lease contract with the DENR, and a permit to construct a private port from the Philippine Ports Authority.

"The Senate should hear all stakeholders and unravel the layers of issues that have plagued Sibuyan island for decades. Nakakasira na nga ang malakihang pagmimina sa kalikasan, mukhang may paglabag pa ng mga batas ang kumpanya sa pagsasagawa ng kanilang negosyo. Paulit-ulit ang mga ulat tungkol sa karahasang dulot ng mga mining companies at panahon nang tunay na pakinggan naman ng gubyerno ang hinaing ng komunidad," the senator said.

PSR No. 459 also stated that Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual said that the Philippines was going to prioritize exporting processed nickel as a core economic strategy, a move seen to create pressure on the Philippines as the world's second biggest nickel supplier.

"This economic prospect can urge mining companies to aggressively do business that will undermine the rights and welfare of the people of Sibuyan. Baka sa kagustuhang umasenso nang mabilis, hindi na namamalayang may natatapakan na palang mga tao," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros emphasized that Sibuyan has been given the distinction of being "The Galapagos in Asia" for its extraordinary flora and fauna. The resolution also detailed the hundreds of diverse plant and animal species that have been discovered in the area.

"We, in the Senate, should help champion the conservation of the island's endemic flora and fauna, defend its coastal communities from long-term ecological devastation, and protect the residents from violent incursions of mining companies," she added.

"Matindi ang epekto ng pagmimina sa buhay ng maraming Pilipino, lalo na ng mga indigenous peoples. Yung mga nagmimina, pag nakuha na nila ang gusto nila, lilipat na sila ng ibang lugar. Pero ang mga residente at pati mga apo nila, habambuhay na maninirahan sa Sibuyan Island. Kaya gagawin natin ang lahat upang siguraduhin na mamanahin ng susunod na henerasyon ng Romblon ang matabang lupa at mayabong na likas na yaman," Hontiveros concluded.

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Note: Please see attached PSR No. 459 in PDF format

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