Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) has expressed its support to Brooke’s Point Mayor Jean Feliciano, who was temporarily suspended by the Ombudsman as a result of a lawsuit filed by Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc.’s (FNI) Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC).

In a statement on Tuesday, ATM said Feliciano was only performing her duties as a local chief executive in preventing forest destruction brought by illegal mining activities in their locality in Southern Palawan.

“Our alliance has witnessed the dedication of Mayor Jean to ensure that farmers and indigenous peoples from Brooke’s Point are not displaced and lose their livelihoods because of the extractive activities of Celestial Nickel Mining Corp. (Celestial) and Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) in the area,” ATM said.

“Since 2010, the mining company has faced the opposition of the local communities against their operations and has failed to secure the social acceptability of its mining project. ATM stands with our members Samahan ng mga Magsasakang Ayaw sa Pagmimina (SMAP) and indigenous peoples’ organization BICAMM in rejecting the mine operations,” it added.

In a recent decision, the Office of the Ombudsman ruled Feliciano guilty of “Oppression or Grave Abuse of Authority” following her illegal actions in stopping the operations of INC and demolishing its mining properties.

As a result, Feliciano is “suspended for one year from service without pay” for taking “undue advantage of her official position” as an “educated lawyer.”

But, ATM believes that Feliciano was practicing due diligence in shutting down INC’s operations in 2017 after the company’s Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) was revoked by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the same year.

As per the assessment of Brooke’s Point local government unit, INC also violated the town’s land-use zoning and the National Building Code of the Philippines.

“We hold the DENR accountable, particularly DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, for failing to listen to the sentiments of the local government and the affected communities when it decided to re-instate the mining company’s ECC despite the strong and clear opposition of the local government. Similarly, we demand that DENR disclose all information related to the review process that eventually resulted in the reinstatement of INC’s ECC,” ATM said.

“The reinstatement of INC’s ECC is a reflection of the incompetence of DENR to protect forests and uphold the interests of communities affected by destructive mining activities,” it added.

The group further said that INC’s inability to resolve differences with a local chief executive betrays their low regard for listening to the voices of affected sectors.

“This suspension order against Mayor Feliciano seriously weakens local autonomy and might usher in a ‘chilling effect’ against LGU officials who are standing against destructive mining,” ATM said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (