Just recently, the known “Galapagos of Asia” Sibuyan Island made headlines as the residents prevented mining trucks from reaching the coast of Sibuyan Island in Romblon. Tensions escalated at the police’s dispersal of residents and anti-mining groups against operations of the Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC). Now it got national attention!
DENR The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered Altai Philippines Mining, a firm owned by “Plastics King” William Gatchalian, to cease and desist mining operations in Romblon due to a lack of permits. This is a clear victory for the people of Sibuyan. The residents asserted that mining has no place in a small island ecosystem as it may damage Sibuyan’s forests and river systems, and disrupt the lives of locals.
The record shows that the DENR Environmental Management Bureau in MIMAROPA issued Notices of Violation to APMC for violation of Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1586 or the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System, Republic Act (RA) 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990, RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, and Presidential Decree 705 for cutting trees without a permit.
According to notices of violation posted by Alyansa Tigil Mina, APMC was found violating four laws, which include the country’s water code, the foreshore lease agreement, salvage zone construction activities, the construction of causeway without the proper Environmental Compliance Certificates, and the clearing of trees without a permit.
How can we protect the environment when elected officials have some vested interest and do without regard for the destruction of Sibuyan Island known as the “Galapagos of Asia.”