Bishop cries foul after mining firm clears forest in Palawan

Bishop cries foul after mining firm clears forest in Palawan

The mining company Ipilan Nickel Corp. is in hot water for cutting thousands of century-old trees supposedly without the necessary permits in Brooke’s Point town in Palawan province. PHOTO FROM GINA LOPEZ FACEBOOK PAGE

MANILA— The cutting of thousands of century-old trees by a mining company in Palawan has drawn the ire of a Catholic bishop who urged for action so that it won’t happen again.

As the country’s “last ecological frontier” because of its unique biodiversity, Bishop Socrates Mesiona emphasized the importance of protecting the province’s environment and its remaining natural resources.

“This is a tragedy because Palawan is the last frontier so we hope that our environment will be protected, especially the century-old trees,” Mesiona said over Manila archdiocese-run Radio Veritas.

Thousands of trees in Brooke’s Point town were cut just days after former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez was rejected by the Commission on Appointments.

Lopez, who took to Facebook in exposing the “massacre”, accused the Ipilan Nickel Corp. of cutting trees “without a permit and protected area clearance”.

The former Cabinet official said the cutting of trees will affect 3,000 hectares of agricultural land and 30,000 people in at least five barangays.

The prelate then lauded the unity among the people and local officials who fought to protect the environment.

“It’s a good thing that the people themselves who led the fight because they realized that the environment is really important,” he said.

“My instruction to our Social Action Director is to do whatever we can to help the people because we see the initiative that’s really coming from the public,” he added.

Local officials are also planning to sue the mining company and demand for the cancellation of the firm’s environmental plan permit and a mineral sharing agreement with the government. CBCPNews