DENR orders probe into Altai mining firm's operations in Sibuyan over alleged violations

Jasmin Romero and Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2023 09:11 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2023 11:44 PM

Anti-mining advocates join residents of Romblon as they hold a protest march toward the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) headquarters in Quezon City on July 26, 2022. The group called on the agency to block mining on Sibuyan Island citing its impact on the environment. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News.

MANILA -- (UPDATED) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday confirmed that it has ordered a probe into the activities of Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) on Sibuyan Island in Romblon.

The DENR said it has ordered its Romblon office to investigate APMC’s reported cutting of trees without permit, and its alleged destruction of seagrass and other marine resources.

APMC was also ordered to stop transporting ore from its contract site to its private causeway. 

"The DENR firmly assures the public, especially the residents of Sibuyan Island, that the Department continues to strictly implement environmental laws in order to ensure the safety of the community and promote inclusive development in the Province of Romblon," the agency said in a statement. 

The mining firm earlier said it “voluntarily” halted its operations in Sibuyan amid protests from residents and environmental groups who said the firm's activities were damaging the "Galapagos" of the Philippines.

At least two locals protesting APMC’s activities were injured last Friday after policemen dispersed them. 

The DENR also confirmed that the Environmental Management Bureau in MIMAROPA has issued notices of violation to APMC for violation of Section 4 of the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990, Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, and Presidential Decree 705 for cutting trees without a permit.

It also “denied” the mining firm's application for a miscellaneous lease agreement due to “its violations of Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, otherwise known as the Public Land Act.” 


Sibuyan residents, who were protesting mining on the island, said the DENR’s decision was a welcome development.

“Medyo nakakahinga ng maluwag at medyo nakakatulog na, kasi halos dalawang linggo, yun lang ang aming binabantayan at yun dahilan ng lagi kaming puyat,” a volunteer at the barricade camp Dandan Royo said.

But Royo said they will not let their guard down. 

“Patuloy pa rin po kami na nagbabantay at nagmamasid sa mga kaganapan dito at sa mga activity na patuloy na ginagawa pa rin ng Altai Mining Company,” he added.

“This is just one of the fruits of the barricade with the tireless and unselfish people who have been joining and supporting us for the last fourteen days. We appreciate the action by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” said Sibuyan resident and environmentalist Rodne Rodiño Galicha.

Like Royo, Galicha assured that despite the recent pronouncement, they will still continue manning the barricade “until the Exploration Permit (EP) and Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) are revoked.”

“We will also exhaust all administrative and legal means to defend Sibuyan Island and end the abuses and disrespect to our communities. We call on all Filipinos and those who love Sibuyan to join our cause as we unite to defend the rights of nature in which all human rights and lives depend. This is just the beginning and we shall continue to #HoldTheLineforSibuyan,” Galicha said. 


APMC, in a statement to ABS-CBN News on Wednesday night, meanwhile said their decision to voluntarily suspend their “exploration activities” in Sibuyan Island is not tantamount to admitting guilt.

The firm said their action was “done in good faith” considering the tensions that were already building up on the site and to “allow productive dialogue” to happen.

APMC also maintained that "exploration activities in Sibuyan Island are fully legal, compliant, and above board."

“Once again, we categorically deny all allegations questioning the legitimacy of our operations,” the company stated.

APMC committed to answer the findings of the environment regulator “in the proper forum”.

“We submit ourselves to the authority of the concerned regulators, and welcome dialogue and/or due processes so that our side may also be heard,” the statement said.


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