By: Kahel Dime

Palawan, the Philippines’ last frontier and the most fertile biodiversity area in the country, is facing a grave threat. Since time immemorial, Palawan’s ecosystem has pronounced its wondrous and vibrant resources to its inhabitants with no failure.

While the government is arms wide open, welcoming the most docile mining corporations who are bolstering up their wealth creating machines and preying on nature, the health of the Palawan’s biotic sphere diminish. Not just at one point, the farmers, the flora and fauna and the indigenous people who are very Palawan Mapaffected in this turmoil are introduced to the neo-liberal dungeon.

Provided with the newest vehicle that moves towards a miserable destination, the indigenous community like the people living in the Barangay of Sumbiling, Bataraza, have arrived in a situation where they have no option but to live the life they never imagined.  Up until today the vicious cycle is continuing and remnants of major socio-environmental perversion are provided. Yet the few individuals behind the corporate totalitarianism ridiculously invests to mining enterprise that does nothing more but multiply profit shares despite the incalculable damages it bring to its hosts.

Vehement shift of Palawan’s ecology

The elongated island of Palawan indicates the intervening abundance of its natural resources. Its geographic measurement is about 450 kilometers long and 50 kilometers wide, the area is deemed as the largest province of the archipelago.

Along the 1780 islands and islets, there are cultural groups situated here that bear various influences from China, India and from Middle East. The ethnolinguistic tribes who completely regard Palawan as their home are the Batak, Molbog, Palawanon, Tagbanwa, and Taaw’t-Bato.

Palawan Wildlife

The surrounding islands and the chain of mountain ranges where its rich forest sits are the pre-indication that the entire Palawan is one of the key areas targeted by mining corporations due to the ample source of metal and non-metal based reserve that can be extracted within its course. The following mineral resources that can be found in Palawan are:

Metal based mining minerals:
Nickel
–  Chromite
–  Metallic mercury

Non-metallic based minerals:
– Limestone
– Coral
– Marble
– Silica

The mining corporations, who are trying to solidify their profit shares by attracting more investors, are systemically persuading each and every share holders that the wealth of Palawan can be converted to superprofits.  While they are turning the pages of their financial reports and profit schemes, the hollow and the ecocidal motion that exist within the island were never compensated and will never be. The separation of all flora and fauna from their terrestrial and aquatic habitat dramatically affect the delicate ecosystem of the province.

Palawan inhabitants and its history

In the midst of the rocky coves of Palawan, the fossils of the Tabon cave man was found within the town of Quezon 22,000 years agone. This echoing historical record moved many anthropologists to track its origins. It was believed that they were from the land of Borneo and that they travelled across Batak Tribe Palawanthe land-bridge that was formerly connected (between Borneo and Palawan). Added to that, there were also relics of pottery and artifacts found in the caves that indicated that the early settlers (pre-Spanish Philippines) of the island were involved in trade between Malays and Chinese.

Since the province is near Borneo, in the 12th century many Malay began settling in Palawan and ruled over the land for more than 200 years before the Spanish set their foot in the archipelago.  They lived on the abundant access to its fertile soil and many other resources.

The natives living in the interior mountains and coastal areas created villages that were involved in rice growing, vegetable gardening, fishing and livestock. Each indigenous people who settled in this land hold diverse cultures and practices.

Influx of Corporate Greed

Unmitigated horrors of industrialization are mostly visible in the southern part of Palawan where large mining industries are operating such as the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) in Bataraza, Berong Nickel Corporation (BNC) in Quezon, CitiNickel Mines and Development Corp. (CMDC) in Marebong and the three major companies – Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC), LEBACH and MacroAsia Corporation in Brooke’s Point. Not reluctant to deliver the Coron Island Palawanlife–threatening circumstances, there about 354 (total number) mining applications that are still pending and waiting to be sanctioned.

In the area of Bataraza

Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) proudly stating that there company have long history of mining in Palawan is parallel to extolling the most salvaging operations to the community of Bataraza. The RTNMC a Filipino Japanese Partnership exporting saprolite ore to Japan and operated since 1967 that covered 5,265 hectares of land in Rio Tuba, Bataraza. In the year 1970 on September 18, the company pursued its rampaging influences by entering into a Mining Lease Contract to the Philippine government allowing them to encompass the 126 hectares of public land for valuable mining mineral extraction such as nickel and iron. The $318 Million estimated income from the operation magnetized the national government to regard this corporate mining project to the top listed priority projects for their so called Philippine economy which clearly means building more mining facilities for environmental degradation.

In Quezon’s surface

Prowling in the grounds of Quezon, Palawan is the exploitative mining firm – the Berong Nickel Corporation a subsidiary of Toledo Mining Corporation. This private mining enterprise is engaged in exploration, mining and processing of nickel laterite. Its operation started in 2004 and until today they will load its schedule for shipping all the nickel ore produced.

anti-mining palawan-poster

Around the bed of Marebong, Espanola

The mining pursuit within the area of Marebong that formerly operated under the violative route of Platinum Group Metals Corporation (PGMC) now within the capricious hands of the CitiNickel Mines and Development Corp. (CMDC), have subjugated the community and divided them into halves. It was in year 2008 that the CMDC acquired the rights to fully operate in its targeted area.  Operating 200 meters away from the tribe’s burial grounds, the whole opposing Indigenous People show their antipathy to the company for it immensely disrespect and brushed off their rights over their inherited land.

Intrusion in Brooke’s Point

Located in the South-Eastern section of Palawan, lying within is the 6600 hectares of mining concession in the municipality of Brooke’s Point; the three huge mining corporations that compete for the extraction of the valuable mining minerals – the Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC), MacroAsia Corporation and LEBACH Mining Corporation.

MacroAsia Corporation, who is eyeing for the success of its Infanta Nickel Project, tremendously assaulted the fertile land since 1970’s. It has been stated the nickel rich mine they produced all head to the three major shipments for the country of Japan.

The other two large scale mining corporation resembles the same strategy; the Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC), another subsidiary of Toledo Mining Corporation, who is engaged in exploration activities for nickel deposits and the LEBACH, cannot provide an answer to the fraudulent action towards the Ipilan community, yet continues to execute more piercing methods within the ancestral lands of the tribes.

These three mining giant companies multiply its fastened nemesis. And up until now concurrent explorations, development, production and other necessary mining activities never cease, ever ready to expand and drill more deep holes that breaks the municipality’s core.

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