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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“No longer just pen and paper”

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“No longer just pen and paper.” This was the sigh of relief of Arnil Junia, a forest protection officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) attending a training on proper gun handling, operation, and firing by the Philippine National Police on November 8, 2017.

Forester Junia shared how demoralizing it is for a field officer to face armed violators without any tool but pen and paper. He added that their lives as forest officers are often in danger every time they apprehend illegal loggers, kaingineros, and wildlife poachers.

Another forest protection officer, Mark Anthony Gabuco, shared that, more often than not, they encounter violent resistance when they apprehend violators. Gabuco emphasized the need to improve their capacity to defend themselves so they can efficiently perform their job as law enforcer.

Junia and Gabuco, both from Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Brooke’s Point, are among the 143 forest officers undergoing training on law enforcement and forest protection in Puerto Princesa on November 6-10, 2017. Apart from gun handling and test firing, the training also includes lectures on  read more...

 

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