Altai partners with civil society groups to ensure ‘responsible mining’ in Sibuyan Island
MANILA, Philippines — The Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) and civil society groups from Sibuyan Island, Romblon, agreed to work together and promote responsible mining, as well as implement developmental initiatives, which they said will improve the lives of residents in the province.
AMPC and Sibuyan-Civil Society Organizations (CSO) signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) on Tuesday and committed to promoting responsible mining and putting up long-term developmental projects such as building a hospital and bee and fish farming areas, among others within the area.
“Ang aming joint statement ngayon ay dinidiklera namin na kami ay magkakasundo na magtulungan […] Binubuksan namin ang aming company sa direktang pagpapalakad ng mina para tiyakin na mapatupad lahat ng batas na dapat ipatupad tungkol sa mina sa Sibuyan Island,” AMPC chief operating officer (CEO) Atty. Stephen Cascolan said in a press conference held in Quezon City.
(Our joint statement today declares that we agree to work together, and we are opening our company’s direct mining operations to the public to ensure that laws regarding the mining in Sibuyan Island are followed and implemented.)
According to Cascolan, representatives of Sibuyan CSO, on the other hand, will serve as “eye-witnesses” overseeing the company’s mining-related activities within the island.
Following the agreement, Cascolan said that AMPC is currently in its “exploration stage” and has yet to file the necessary permit to the government agencies concerned before proceeding to its “operational stage.”
However, he said the company has already employed around 220 locals during the exploration stage alone. Once the company returned to its mining operations, Cascolan revealed that approximately 1,500 residents would receive a job.
Also, in this stage, the AMPC officer said that the company has already allocated a 10 percent contribution from its budget, which amounts to not less than P10 million.
Call for unity
On January 31, residents of Sibuyan Island, Romblon, set up a human barricade to stop what they believe to be illegal mining operations in the area, according to Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM).
On the night of the same day, locals were alarmed when police personnel, who were ordered to barricade the area, surrounded the area.
For their part, representatives of the Sibuyan-CSO urge other groups to join them in their initiatives towards the province’s development.
“Nanawagan ako sa lahat ng farmers at lahat ng organized association at cooperative sa Sibuyan Island na tayo po ay magsama sama sa development and kaunlaran,” Ramoncito Gubaton, one of Sibuyan Island-CSO representatives said.
(I call on all farmers and all organized associations and cooperatives in Sibuyan Island to join us in development and prosperity.)
“Kung meron man investor magkakaroon ng employment at malaki ang tulong sa tao na magpapaaral ng anak sa kolehiyo. Kami pong mga member ng civil society organization kami po ang magbabantay sa operasyon kung ang ginagawa ba nila ay tama o hindi alinsunod sa batas,” he added.
(If there is an investor, there will be employment and a lot of help for locals, especially those who will send their child to college. We, the members of the civil society organization, will watch over the operation to see what is right under the law.)
Last February 7, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered AMPC to cease and desist mining operations, suspended its ore transport permit, and denied its application for a miscellaneous lease agreement after the anti-mining protests.
Before DENR issued the order, the agency said it notified the company of its noncompliance with several rules, such as failing to show an Environmental Compliance Certificate and breaching several policies.
Meanwhile, the mining firm said on February 6 that it voluntarily stopped all exploration and testing activities within the area to assure authorities and stakeholders of its cooperation following the anti-mining protests.