Senate probe sought into mining activities in Sibuyan Island

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 6) – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed a Senate resolution that seeks an inquiry into nickel and metallic mining activities in Sibuyan Island by Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC).

Hindi dapat nauuwi sa karahasan ang mapayapang pagtutol ng mga residente sa panghihimasok ng mga kumpanyang nagmimina sa sarili nilang tahanan,” the senator stated in Senate Resolution No. 459.

[Translation: Residents' peaceful protest against the intrusion of mining companies into their own homes should not turn into violence.]

“The residents are well within their rights to protest,” she added.

The resolution was prompted by the tension between protesters and police in the area that left two residents of Sibuyan Island injured.

Today marks the 14th day of the human barricade formed by Sibuyan Island residents in front of APMC's private port.

Local environmental groups said APMC was not able to secure the necessary permits and documents for their mining activities. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) MIMAROPA Regional Director Joe Amil Salino also found that APMC has committed a number of violations with regards to environmental laws.

Without providing permits, APMC on Sunday denied allegations that their activities in Sibuyan Island were “illegal.”

READ: Mining company denies 'illegal operations' on Sibuyan Island

In the resolution, Hontiveros said residents of Sibuyan Island have been fighting for almost two decades to stop mining exploration on their island.

Nakakasira na nga ang malakihang pagmimina sa kalikasan, mukhang may paglabag pa ng mga batas ang kumpanya sa pagsasagawa ng kanilang negosyo,” the senator said.

[Translation: Large-scale mining is already damaging the environment, it seems that the company is also breaking laws in the conduct of its business.]

In 2021, the DENR lifted its cease-and-desist order against APMC. A year later, a mineral ore export permit was issued to APMC, allowing it to test 50,000 metric tons of ore.

APMC is linked to businesses of Kenneth Gatchalian, brother of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian, and Valenzuela Mayor Wes Gatchalian.

Kenneth is said to be the direct beneficiary of Dynamo Atlantic Ltd, which acquired Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corp., a partner company of APMC.