Public consultation Barong Barong, Palawan (The Philipines) – some rough observations

no to mining!

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After we have gathered with trucks and tricycles at the centre of Ipilan, we proceed to the baranguay of Barong Barong where the public consultation about Lebach mining has been organized. It considers a MPSA (production) permit that will affect the following baranguays of the municipality of Brooke’s Point: Calasaguen, Maasin, Mambalot, Ipilan, Barong Barong and Ariturigos. Within the limits of the application actually live people and is home to at least three elementary schools. Additionally, it is within the restricted ECC zones according to SEP-law. It overlaps with other applications of Macro Asia and Ipilan Nickel. The process of acquiring the right documents is troublesome. Lebach Mining been accused of illegal test pitting in the ECC core zones.

The public consultation has been organized by the commission of environment of the municipal council of Brooke’s Point, which is known for its pro-mining point of view. Leaders and inhabitants of the baranguays that will eventually be affected by Nickel mining corporations have been invited. The goal is to get an idea of the opinion of the public, and to let the affected communities know that there is a mining company that has interest in operating in its area, according to the commission on environment.

Present representatives from the geosciences bureau MGB, Lebach mining, PCSD, municipal representatives, sit in front of the public. They reserved seats for a representative of the NCIP, which is not present. After having rallied from a distance, the anti-mining group comes closer to the actual consultation site to be able to make interventions in the discussion. After a short presentation of Lebach mining company the floor is open to interventions. A process that endured from more or less three to five o’clock. Most of the interventions came from the anti-mining group, I think three out of ten. Besides that, many of the question posed by the anti mining movement remained un answered (and at the same time were supported by way more noise an supportive noises, than the pro-mining interventions). Especially the first intervention, in which a clarification about a fake FPIC document (free prior informed consent
from the indigenous peoples, one of the requirements for permits in ancestral land domains) was not answered. There also seemed to be some confusion about the status of the different permits of Lebach. PNNI and ELAC needed to intervene here to clarify about the status.

Another point of view that was voiced was that mining is not bad per sé, but not on Palawan, not in Brooke’s Point, because of the rich biodiversity and being the last frontier.

The participation is diverse: women, panglima, teachers, men, young and old, all make interventions. Media is also present (ABS CBN and other wit red cross shirt…). Atmosphere in general relaxed and okay Interventions are serious, and mostly take seriously, but the happening doesn’t turn grim (especially if compared to Latin American comparable contexts).

It is difficult to say how many people were mobilized, I think the total of participants was 700, and I estimate that 400 anti-mining and 300 pro or neutral – difficult to know because just few of them pronounced themselves during the pro-mining interventions

The municipal council will now study the different interventions and on the basis of this take her decision.