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Group seeks end to ‘destructive’ mining, commends Sibuyan Island protesters

An environmental group on Tuesday called for an end to “destructive” mining in the country, denouncing the police's “violent” dispersal of protesters on Sibuyan Island.

The Earth Island Institute Philippines (EIIP) issued the call after police broke through a barricade of residents to allow a mining company's trucks to pass, during the residents' ongoing protest on the island in Romblon province.

In a statement, EIIP campaign coordinator Robert Medrano said they are "united in vigilance" against Altai Philippines Mining Corporation's (APMC) mining activities on the island.

“We also wish to stop all the destructive mines in the Philippines, and together we can achieve these goals,” he said.

Medrano said the “coercive dispersal” of Sibuyan residents and other environmental organizations violate their right to a peaceful assembly and right to a healthy and flourishing environment.

He also commended the residents' “courageous” act of holding the line.

“We would like to congratulate and salute the courageous people and fellow environmental groups for holding the line to protect Sibuyan Island. It's an inspiration to all environmental defenders throughout the country,” he said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered a temporary halt to APMC’s operations on Sibuyan due to several alleged violations.

According to a notice of violation issued by the DENR-Mimaropa Environment Bureau, APMC had violated the implementing rules and regulations of the Water Code of the Philippines.

In response, APMC said they were deeply saddened by the recent hostilities in the vicinity of their mining exploration operations in Sibuyan Island.

"Based on the reports, there were a few incidents involving our employees, law enforcement personnel, and protesters who were purportedly hurt when tensions got out of hand at the site," said the company.

The company added that their operations in Sibuyan began many years before they even set up camp on-site: undertaking comprehensive environmental and socio-economic studies and outcome analyses, consulting with official regulators and agencies, and engaging the surrounding communities, to ensure that their operations would be safe, legitimate, and with minimal environmental effects. — BM, GMA Integrated News