Sibuyan residents determined to defend the island against destructive mining

This article is available in Pilipino

The residents of Sibuyan, an island in Romblon province, are determined to continue to defend their island against the disastrous mining of the Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) of the Gatchalian family. This is after the Court of Appeals dismissed on May 24 their petition to declare a writ of kalikasan on the island to stop the company’s operation. The court gave the petitioners 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration.

“Stay strong!” the Sibuyan Nature Conservancy group appealed. “We need the unity of every Sibuyanon now more than ever!”

Last January 2023, the residents of Sibuyan barricaded against the company due to its lack of a permit from the local barangay council. The police dismantled this barricade and charged the association’s president.

The group filed a petition in the Supreme Court for a writ of kalikasan in February 2023 to stop APMC’s mining. It also filed a complaint against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Mines and Geosciences Bureau. On June 13, 2023, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the residents and awarded the writ of kalikasan to the island but did not issue a temporary environmental protection order that would have outright halted APMC operations within 72 hours. This writ was dismissed by the Court of Appeals in May.

APMC’s mining poses a huge risk to the island, which has been dubbed the “Galapagos of Asia” for its rich biodiversity. APMC will excavate up to 19 million tons of soil and rock in protected areas and buffer zones from the island’s 1,580 hectares of forest cover. This mining will cause thinning and erosion of the land, terrain transformation, contamination of the rivers up to the surrounding ocean. It will affect an estimated 60,000 island residents, who depend on its resources.

AB: Sibuyan residents determined to defend the island against destructive mining