Sibuyan Island residents praised for a year of successful people’s barricade against mining
ATM Statement | February 5, 2024
Alyansa Tigil Mina lauds the residents of Sibuyan Island for their perseverance in resisting the mining operations of Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) as the people of the “Galapagos of Asia” commemorate the first-year anniversary of their protest camp or people’s barricade.
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, noted the “exemplary resolve and consistent protest actions of the people of Sibuyan” as he enjoined other mining-affected communities to band together and resist destructive mining operations in their areas.
“The residents of Sibuyan never wavered in their fight to protect their environment and way of life, even in the face of threats and harrassments by security forces,” Garganera said.
“They have shown the true power of collectively challenging illegal and destructive mining operations as they continue to demand a stop to the mining operations of APMC and the cancellation of the company’s contract,” he added. “May their struggle inspire other communities to firmly resist together.”
According to Rodne Galicha, Executive-Director of Living Laudato Si and among the organizers of the protest camp, “communities, families, and indigenous people have successfully manned our people’s barricade and have actively sought out sustainable alternatives to promote local development.”
“We’ve explored ecotourism, traditional agriculture, sustainable livelihoods and conservation efforts as viable means of economic growth and community empowerment,” Galicha said. “By focusing on these alternative avenues, the residents of Sibuyan Island are demonstrating that they can achieve progress without compromising the environment or sacrificing their cultural heritage.”
Galicha said that their actions are testament to the “resolve of a united community that values the preservation of the environment and sustainable development.”
“This incredible feat should inspire other communities in the Philippines that face similar challenges to come together, stand up for their rights, and seek alternative paths for progress,” Galicha said.
He added that the struggle against mining is “an opportunity to raise global awareness about the importance of environmental protection and the need for sustainable practices in the face of ever-increasing industrial development.”
Sibuyan is renowned for its rich biodiversity with more than 80% of the island covered in forest. It is home to various endemic species, making it ever more important to safeguard its fragile ecosystems.
Galicha said the “mining operation’s potential to devastate this unique landscape is truly alarming.” He added that “deforestation, erosion, soil and water pollution – these are all harms that we have seen firsthand or heard about across the Philippines.”
In February 2023, the Philippine government ordered APMC to suspend its operations on the Island, following alleged violations of environmental regulations.
The company not only failed to obtain documents required to construct the causeway for transporting nickel ore from the mining site, but a government inspection also confirmed allegations from the community that trees had been illegally felled to build the port to export the nickel ore from the country.
This discovery fueled the determination of local communities to join together and block mining trucks leaving the site.
A Writ of Kalikasan was later issued by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals has been instructed to receive evidence and conduct legal processes.
“APMC’s illicit activities not only violated regulations and environmental standards but also suggested a disregard for transparency and the rule of law. Allowing mining operations to proceed unchecked would have set a dangerous precedent, potentially setting the stage for further ecological and legal violations,” Galicha concluded.
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