The Daily Manila Shimbun


DENR gives Palawan miner until May 24 to explain tree cutting

May 23, 2017

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has given Ipilan Nickel Corp. until May 24 to explain why no criminal charges should be filed against the mining company over its massive indiscriminate tree cutting in the town of Brooke's Point in Palawan province. The show cause order was issued by DENR-Mimaropa Regional Director Natividad Bernardino based on a directive by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who had ordered a full investigation. Ipilan Nickel cut down thousands of trees within its mining area even after the DENR had stopped its operations. Cimatu saw the extent of the destruction during an aerial inspection and a dialogue with  officials of the company and the local government over the weekend. The massive tree-cutting drew indignation from residents, led by Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano. Disgusted, Cimatu issued a general warning to irresponsible mining companies about "going around the law." "You should be man enough to face the consequences if you make a mistake," said the former Armed Forces chief. Initial reports showed Ipilan felled around 7,000 trees in 30 hectares of the 353 hectares of land covered by its mineral production sharing agreement with the DENR. Although Ipilan has an existing one-year tree cutting permit expiring on May 26 this year, the same was deemed no longer effective since Dec. 14, 2016 when the DENR, under then Secretary Gina Lopez, cancelled the firm's environmental compliance certificate. In the show cause order signed by Bernardino, Ipilan was given three working days from receipt to submit its reply. After which, the DENR will issue a resolution. Based on record, Ipilan  -- through its resident manager Ferdinand Libatique-- received the order on May 19. Bernardino said unless explained, what Ipilan did was "contrary to law and sufficient ground to file criminal complaint in a court of law." According to the regional director, Ipilan president "could be charged with qualified theft" for violation of Section 77 of Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code. "We wish to state that with the cancellation of the ECC, all related mining activities including tree cutting permit are likewise deemed cancelled," Bernardino pointed out in the order.  DMS