INC sees suit filed by DENR a chance to be heard
Ipilan Nickel Corp. (INC) said it was standing in the face of a suit filed by the Department of Energy in the Palawan provincial prosecutor’s office related to the cutting of thousands of trees in Brookes Point.
Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. (FNI), INC’s parent firm, said in a statement on Monday the subsidiary “firmly stands on contractual and legal grounds.”
“Although INC has yet to receive its copy of the complaint, which faults it for cutting trees in the mining area, it welcomes the chance to be heard properly and independently by a quasi-judicial body,” FNI said.
The nickel producer said DENR agencies “have long sat on INC’s motion for reconsideration of the flawed cancellation of its environmental compliance certificate,” which INC filed on Jan. 4.
FNI reiterated that, under the law, the filing of the motion stopped the effectivity of the ECC cancellation.
“Besides, the DENR has yet to conclude its investigation and allow INC to respond to the results thereof as DENR Undersecretary Maria Paz Luna committed at the (June 2) hearing on the subject,” FNI said.
“INC believes that an objective appreciation of facts and law will bear it out,” it added.
The DENR said in a statement that based on initial reports, INC cut down some 7,000 trees within 30 hectares of land. Most of these trees were reportedly “premium native species.”
But in its complaint, the DENR accused INC of felling some 677 trees, “most of which are hardwood species, in an area not covered by the tree cutting permit the company secured last year.”
Aside from the filing of a criminal complaint against INC, the DENR is looking into another violation of INC related to the alleged illegal construction of a mine yard road within its mining area.
The DENR issued in May 2016 a one-year special tree cutting permit as part of INC’s mineral production sharing agreement.
Five months later, under then Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, the DENR cancelled INC’s ECC, which the agency said rendered the tree cutting permit invalid. —RONNEL W. DOMINGO
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