Suspended mayor insists: Mining impacts agriculture in Brooke's Point

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2021 11:11 AM | Updated as of Jul 28 2021 12:02 PM

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MANILA - Brooke's Point Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano said Wednesday she was opposed to mining operations in her town because it would affect the livelihoods of her constituents who depend on agriculture.

Speaking to ANC's "Rundown," the suspended local chief executive said her supporters have gathered over 20,000 signatures calling on the Ombudsman to reverse its decision.

"They knew that what I'm fighting is for Brooke's Point, for them. It's not for myself. It's for Brooke's Point," she said.

In February, the anti-graft agency suspended Feliciano for a year without pay due to "oppression or grave abuse of authority."

The order stemmed from a complaint filed by Ipilan Nickel Corp. (INC), which accused the mayor of implementing former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez's cancellation of environmental compliance certificate of the company in 2016. 

Feliciano, an environmental lawyer, shut down in 2018 the operations of INC, a subsidiary of Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. 

But in 2020, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources recalled its previous decision after INC appealed.

The mayor has asked the Ombudsman to reconsider the ruling, claiming she was only looking after the welfare of her constituents. She also noted the company lacked necessary permits.

In the interview, Feliciano said the closure and demolition orders she issued against INC emanated from the powers of the mayor.

"Under the local government code, the mayor has a duty to promote the general welfare and as such, he has the power to demolish illegal structures," she said.

Feliciano disclosed the mining company did not apply for local government permits.

"They just built structures. They test the whole area at dahil nabakod na nila 'yung buong area, meron silang mga guwardiya na armed kaya nakapagputol po sila ng libo-libong mga kahoy sa aming watershed (when they fenced the whole area and with armed security guards, they were able to cut down thousands of trees in our watershed)," she said.

The mayor claimed more than 100,000 trees had been cut down by the company.

Feliciano stressed that the mining operations would affect the livelihood of her constituents who were mostly farmers.

"Brooke's Point is the food basket in Palawan," she said, adding the town supplies rice and vegetables in the whole province.