Stop Mining Palawan Forest sign now

We, the undersigned are extremely concerned about the situation of the indigenous peoples and rural communities of Palawan Island (the Philippines' last ecological frontier). Palawan is part of the Man and Biosphere Reserve program of UNESCO and hosts 49 animals and 56 botanical species found in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

MacroAsia mining corporation and Celestial Nickel Mining Exploration Corporation (currently being operated by Ipilan Nickel Corporation) have been given rights over the land of indigenous Palawan communities, some of whom have very little contact with the outside world. These mining concessions are even within the Core and Restricted Zones, which should be protected by the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan. Mining in these areas will devastate the communities and the land they rely on to survive.

We are also concerned at the Provincial government's plans for thousands of hectares of biofuel plantations, especially oil palm. These will reduce local biodiversity and the indigenous people's ability to access their natural resources.

The Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) is building roads in the Bulanjao range (a biodiversity hotspot), which are causing environmental damage such as landslides, soil erosion and deforestation of watersheds. This is threatening the health and livelihood of both Palawan indigenous communities and lowland farmers.

Moreover, we are concerned about reports that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), in Palawan, is not supporting the interests of its indigenous constituents. As a result, consultative processes carried out by NCIP do not allow the indigenous people to exert their free, prior and informed consent, to which they are entitled by national and international law.

Although the 25-year moratorium on small-scale mining is welcome, it will not stop large-scale mining in the province. Furthermore, the newly approved Mantalingahan Protected Area does not provide protection for the Gantong watersheds. In fact, these areas, inhabited by vulnerable and isolated Palawan communities, are included in the mining claims of MacroAsia Corporation, which will remain valid.

We urge the national government to revoke the 1995 Mining Act, which has been so disastrous for indigenous peoples and rural communities in the Philippines and to cancel both MacroAsia's and Celestial's mining claims in the uplands of Brooke's Point Municipality and in Gantong watersheds. These have been granted without the genuine free prior and informed consent of the indigenous inhabitants.

Finally, we urge you to ensure that the construction of mining roads in the watersheds of Bulanjao range, and plans to increase oil palm plantations, are stopped immediately in accordance with the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act and the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan.

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