Anti-mining bloc sweeps village polls in South Palawan, PhilippinesPublished by MAC on 2007-11-02
Anti-mining bloc sweeps village polls in South Palawan, Philippines
2nd November 2007
by Redempto Anda, Inquirer
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines -- Anti-mining candidates in Monday’s polls beat pro-mining rivals in an intensely fought contest in Brooke’s Point, Palawan where two large-scale nickel mining projects are starting out.
Campaigning on a platform to oppose the mining projects, they won in all six villages covered by the projects of MacroAsia Corporation and Ipilan Nickel Mining Corporation, according to Brooke’s Point Vice Mayor Jean Feliciano.
Feliciano, herself installed by green votes in last May’s polls, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer the village elections were “most intense” in areas where mine firms operate.
Both MacroAsia and Ipilan are on the exploration stage of their mining projects and need local endorsements to secure operating permits.
“We won by a landslide in Ipilan and edged the incumbent pro-mining candidate in Maasin by a single vote. It was a triumph of public resolve to protect the environment,” Feliciano said.
Ipilan, the town’s largest village with over 3,000 registered voters and host to Ipilan Nickel Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation, voted overwhelmingly for an anti-mining crusader, Jonathan Lagrada, who went up against incumbent and Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) chairman Efren Balmonte.
Balmonte earlier led a petition to block the declaration of Mt. Mantalingahan as a protected area, a move which Feliciano claimed was instigated by mining companies who wanted to encroach into the reserve for their future operations.
A Tagbanua indigenous leader, Panglima Quirino Tanogan won in the village of Sarasa, also a mining site of Ipilan Nickel.
Feliciano said the elections in Brooke’s Point was “hotly contested.”
“The mining companies did everything to retain the incumbent barangay captains whom they have co-opted to support the mining projects,” Feliciano said.
Asked what the implications are of having anti-mining village captains, Feliciano said her group “will be able to ensure that the real sentiment of the communities will come out in the consultations that they (mining companies) are supposed to do.”
Both MacroAsia and Ipilan Nickel are on the exploration stage of the permitting process and needs to secure community endorsement for their large scale permits.
The Inquirer asked MacroAsia Vice President for Mining Operations Rufu Cabanlig to comment on the poll outcome in Brooke’s Point but received no response.