Tamaraw count drops
By: Deniel Salvador B. Morillo

 

From 413 in 2016, the count of Tamaraws (Bubalus mindorensis) in Mts. Iglit - Baco National Park (MIBNP), Occidental Mindoro slid to 401 this year.

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The drop in the number of the Tamaraw or the Philippine Dwarf Buffalo may be attributed to the presence of balatiks or native hunting traps used by the Mangyans in the area, as reported during the annual Tamaraw Population Count held on April 22 - 26, 2017.

tamaraw mbcfi copyThe Tamaraw is on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and is classified as critically endangered—the highest risk rating for animal species. The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the conservation status of plant and animal species.

MIBNP is the core habitat of the Tamaraws and is also the home of the indigenous people’s (IP) group Tau-Buid, commonly referred to as Mangyans. In accordance with Republic Act No. 8371 or The Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997, IPs have Sustainable Traditional Resource Rights or the right to use, manage, protect and conserve land, air, water, and minerals; plants, animals and other organisms; collecting, fishing and hunting grounds; sacred sites; in accordance with their indigenous knowledge, beliefs, systems and practices. The same law also provides the IPs the right to claim ownership over lands, bodies of water traditionally and actually occupied by IPs, sacred places, traditional hunting and fishing grounds, and all improvements made by them at any time within the domains.

Recognizing both the rights of the IPs and the urgent need to protect the Tamaraws, the Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP) of the DENR entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), with Mangyan tribe leaders, designating an area where the Mangyans can practice traditional hunting.

Herold S. Castro, Field Operations Assistant of the MIBNP, explained that despite the agreement, some members of the Mangyan tribe still place balatiks outside the designated hunting area, trapping and killing animals including the Tamaraws. The TCP is having continuous talks with the tribe leaders to address the issue and to further strengthen the agreement on the protection of the Tamaraws.

 

News

DENR slaps criminal charge against Ipilan Nickel Corporation

 

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July 14, 2017. Puerto Princesa City. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through Brooke’s Point Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Conrado Corpuz, files today at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor a criminal charge against Ipilan Nickel Corporation for violation of Section 77 of Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Code of the Philippines.

The case filed by DENR involves a 1.7 hectare area out of the total 24-hectare forest cleared by Ipilan Nickel Corporation in Barangay Maasin, Brooke’s Point which DENR argues to be undoubtedly outside the company’s tree cutting permit.

DENR issued INC a special tree cutting permit in May 2016 as part of its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA). However, former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez cancelled INC’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC) on December 16, 2016, rendering its tree cutting permit invalid. INC argues its tree cutting permit remains valid.

“Granting without admitting that INC’s tree cutting permit was valid, DENR has a strong case against the company on the 1.7-hectare cleared area,” asserts DENR MIMAROPA Regional Director Natividad Bernardino.

“This is just the first in a series of cases against INC,” says Corpuz. He said that DENR will also file other charges against INC upon completion of the inventory of the trees cut in the remaining 22.3 hectares. The onset of the rainy season and the huge number of felled trees has slowed down the retrieval and inventory of trees.

DENR is also investigating another violation – the construction of a mine yard road without clearance from DENR. Apart from this, Brooke’s Point Mayor Jean Feliciano is also batting to revoke the SEP (Strategic Environmental Plan) clearance issued by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development to INC.

“INC is criminally liable and Secretary Roy Cimatu wants to ensure that irresponsible miners do not get around the law,” says Palawan Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Felizardo B. Cayatoc referring to the Secretary’s instruction to not let INC off the hook.Further, President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced on July 12, 2017 that mining companies must make up for the destructive impact of their operations on the livelihood of farmers and fishpond owners.

“With the string of cases facing INC, there is little chance it will be allowed to continue its mining operations,” adds Bernardino.

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