Philippines: Crucial week for the people and forests of Palawan


Plant Talk has been covering the mining threats to Palawan, Philippines for a number of months. As the endgame approaches the Ancestral Land Domain Watch (ALDAW) call for a last minute protest to stop the mining.

The Palawan Provincial Government are in the process of agreeing mining rights in the heart of the UNSECO biosphere reserve after initially saying endorsement of the operations should have undergone more consideration. The fate of this landscape may be decided in July 30 when a government panel, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, will decide whether to give the go ahead to the operations, according to Survival International.

View over forested mountain range in Philippines

View over the Gantong range in Palawan © Dario Novellino

The two mining companies involved, MacroAsia and Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC), intend to operate within the area recently declared as Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape - an area of huge biocultural importance. Recent biological surveys have thrown up a mass of endemic plants and animals, including various new species of Nepenthes, while also being home to communities of indigenous people that have little contact with the outside world.

ALDAW logoUnfortunately, the outside world is closing in on them. Community Solidarity Response Toronto outline the scale of the problem on their website: "Very recent field investigations carried out by ALDAW in collaboration with the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD), University of Kent has confirmed that MacroAsia test pits and drilling holes are found in ‘core zones’ (areas of maximum protection) around and even above 1,000 m ASL.

Undoubtedly, both MAC and INC have bluntly violated the basic tenets of the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEC) and also of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA Law), a national law protecting the interests of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICC). Faced by this and similar accusations, the Provincial Government has recently made a statement according to which MacroAsia and INC may not be allowed to operate in core zones, but their activities might be limited only to multiple/manipulative use areas.

Again, ocular inspection and GPS data obtained by ALDAW and CBCD indicate the those portions of MacroAsia and INC mining concessions, which are outside the core zones, still include forested buffer zones which, obviously, do not fit, by any means, into the standard definition of ‘multiple/manipulative use zones’, where – according to the law – mining might be allowed. In fact, the mining claims of both MAC and INC are entirely located in ‘core zones’, ‘restricted zones’, agricultural and agroforestry areas that are subject to various cropping regimes. All these categories, according to the SEP law, should not be subject to any other form of large-scale extractive activity."

Maman Tuwa, a Palawan elder, fears that mining will destroy his community. "If our mountains are deforested, how are we going to survive? What are we going to plant if the soil of the uplands will be washed down to the lowlands? How are we going to feed our children? We’ll surely die."

Related links:

Stop Mining Palawan Forest (petition)
Watch footage of the "Karaban" mining protest on June 7 (link to You Tube).
Detailed information on the Community Solidarity Response Toronto website.
Survival International
ALDAW position paper (pdf)
Palawan Biosphere Reserve shouldn't be open for business (Intercontinental Cry)

Philippines: Crucial days ahead for UNESCO Reserve


children demonstrating against mining in palawanIndigenous people in Palawan, Philippines received shocking news at the start of June that the application of three new Philippine mining firms has been approved into one Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTEE) in a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve.

Philippines: Update on Palawan campaign


Palawan campaign thumbnail In February Plant Talk published an article about the mining threats to the landscape, people and plants of Palawan in the Philippines. Yesterday I received an impassioned plea from Aldaw (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch) to bring a petition to the attention of the public.

Philippines: Geo-tagging reveals mining threats on the “Last frontier”


mining in the philippinesPlant Talk invited Dario Novellino from the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD), UK to speak out against the logging and mining in protected areas that is destroying the forests of Palawan.

Address your concerns to:
FAX: 0063 (048) 434-4234
2. Honorable Governor of Palawan
Baham Mitra FAX: 0063 (048) 433-2948