Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) on Monday belied allegations that its operation on Sibuyan Island in Romblon province is unlawful, saying the company has secured all necessary permits and licenses to lawfully and peacefully conduct business in the area.
In a statement, APMC said its operation began many years before it even set up camp on-site by undertaking comprehensive environmental and socioeconomic studies and outcome analyses.
The mining company said it has also consulted with government regulators and agencies, and engaged the surrounding communities to ensure that operations will be safe, legitimate, and with minimal environmental effects.
“Given this, we categorically deny all allegations questioning the legality of our Sibuyan operations. Our company has secured all the necessary permits and licenses to lawfully and peacefully conduct our business in the area,” APMC said.
According to APMC, the company’s right to operate is “as inviolable as the right to peaceful protest and assembly.”
To recall, a series of protests in San Antonio, Romblon led by a group called Sibuyanon Against Mining has reportedly resulted in the violent dispersal of protesters last week, injuring two people.
Subsequently, following the protests, the DENR issued a Notice of Violations (NOV) to the company, followed by the call for the government to issue a cease-and-desist order to stop the company’s operation on the island.
APMC said it is deeply saddened by the recent hostilities that happened near the vicinity of the company’s mining exploration operations.
“Based on reports, there were a few incidents involving our employees, law enforcement personnel, and protesters who were purportedly hurt when tensions got out of hand at the site. Our company has exhausted all means to help those who may have been hurt, and to do whatever we can to de-escalate the situation,” the mining company said.
However, the company said it is distressed by the fact that the ideology of the protesters may not be as different from our company’s core values as it would seem.
“While the full and outright refusal of all mining operations is simply not realistic [nor economically sustainable], Altai Philippines Mining Corporation is equally opposed to all forms of illegal, reckless, and irresponsible mining,” the company said.
It is for that reason that the APMC said it has repeatedly reached out to the protesters to establish dialogue, and hopefully find common ground.
“We hoped that we could assure them that our activities are lawful and compliant to government requirements, and fully aligned with global best practices. Unfortunately, these efforts did not bear fruit,” the company said.
According to APMC, conflict resolution begins when the affected parties stay within the clear guidelines set by the law.
“We would like to assure the public that APMC will continue to strictly and uncompromisingly adhere to all laws pertinent to our activities, for the current exploration and future development, operation, and rehabilitation plans. We pray that those who may have grievances against this will observe the same,” the company said.
The company said it remains committed to ensure that its mining operations involve and respect all stakeholders, minimize environmental impact, and prioritize a fair division of socioeconomic benefits.
The Social Action Network and Caritas Philippines, for its part expressed “serious concern over the recent events in Romblon and stand in solidarity with its people who are taking the boldest stance to protect their only home—the beautiful, ecologically rich, and peaceful Sibuyan Island.”
In a statement, the group said:
We strongly support the Diocese of Romblon’s efforts to protect the environment by opposing the mining project in Sibuyan.
We are committed to advancing the principles of Laudato Si and be bearers of hope in the face of an ecological crisis, following our Lord Jesus, our Redeemer. As such, we commit to “integrate the care of creation as our common home in our teaching and practice of Christian discipleship” through concrete ecological actions in caring for our Common Home.
We feel a moral duty to safeguard and uphold the well-being of our shared environment. Therefore, we believe that the project would not serve the overall interests of the province and would pose a threat, particularly to the lives and lands of the communities on the island, and the rich biodiversity in the area.
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