Tila David at Goliath ang labanan kontra minahan sa isla ng Sibuyan. Isang pamilyang BILYONARYO ang naghahasik ng lagim sa pamamagitan ng pagsira sa kalikasan na magdadala ng BAHA (flooding) at PAGGUHO ng LUPA (landslide). Habang may YAYAMAN pa more dahil sa malakihang negosyo, ang mga pangkaraniwang mamamayan ang papasahan sa mga maiiwang sakit ng ulo. Buhay at mga bahay nila ang haharap sa susunod na mga bagyo na magdadala ng tubig, putik at mga troso.
Statement of the Social Work Action Network Philippines: THE GATCHALIAN CASE: THE MASTERY OF DOUBLE-SPEAK
A review of history tells that the Gachalian family has wormed into the ranks of the ruling class. From a small family owned business in the plastic industry in 1969, it was metamorphosed into a conglomerate composed of “a real estate development company, a bank, an airline, an oil exploration company, a newspaper publication, various hotels and casinos, a stock brokerage, a petrochemical plant and mining companies. In 1994, it organized The Wellex Group, Incorporated as the investment arm of its expanding business concern.”
Two days ago, the militant group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) bared that “Plastics King” William Gatchalian is the one behind the questionable mining operations of the Atlai Philippines Mining Corp (APMC) in Sibuyan island. They claim that Gatchalian’s involvement in the mining company is through his son Kenneth, who is also a director of APMC’s parent firm . The same documents also showed Kenneth Gatchalian sits as chairman of Wellex Mining Corporation, one of the 23 mining firms ordered closed in February 2017 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources under then Secretary Regina Lopez .
Kenneth Gatchalian is the brother of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and recently appointed DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian.
A few days ago, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the mining firm to stop operations of APMC due to lack of permits, among other reasons. Other environmental advocates shared aerial photos which have shown that the firm has already done enough damage, showing that they have already mined some portions of Sibuyan island despite not having an environmental clearance certificate.
This development would not have surfaced in the national consciousness “if not for the local residents blocking roads to stop trucks carrying illegally extracted soil and logs from leaving the island.”
Some colleagues of Sen. Sherwin Gathalian were euphoric on the appointment of Mr. Rexlon to DSWD. The support of the senators on Mr. Gachalian’s appointment to the DSWD insidiously promote a false dichotomy between urban and rural areas from the lens of environmental protection. One senator even prophesized that the new DSWD head “will hopefully bring disaster risk reduction to DSWD as he knows that as congressman, and former mayor of Valenzuela, a vulnerable city,”. Yet he is the same individual that belongs to a family that willfully violated the law leading to the damage of a paradise island for profits in a rural area.
Reactionary pundits will always assert that the sin of the father is not the sin of the son. But the fact remains that the Gachalian family runs a business conglomerate. In this case, it is their company that is starting to destroy the environment with possible aftermath of disasters and calamities.
The reactionary class has always mastered the art of double-speak.
Environmental group refutes APMC
By Bella Cariaso – The Manila Times
February 14, 2023
An environmental group on Monday contradicted the claim of Altai Philippines Mining Corp. (APMC) that it is operating legally in Romblon’s Sibuyan Island.
In an interview with The Manila Times, Living Laudato Si’ Philippines executive director Rodne Galicha maintained that APMC’s exploration permit does not justify its violation of various laws in the country.
“The MPSA (mineral production sharing agreement) is not stand-alone. It is not a sweeping contract. It has terms and conditions. It is not a constitution for them to claim that they have the permit so they can do whatever they want,” Galicha said.
In a paid advertisement, the APMC said that it has a “DENR-approved exploration work program.”
“One of the conditions was for them to follow the existing laws. They need to secure the necessary permits,” Galicha said.
In his letter to Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga dated Feb. 10, 2023, Galicha pushed for the revocation of the exploration permit and the MPSA of APMC in Romblon amid the alleged violations committed by the mining company.
Galicha cited the abuses of APMC including its failure to secure permits for the tree cutting and the construction of a causeway, as well as the lack of environmental compliance certificate in constructing a private port.
In a separate radio interview, Galicha also challenged the local government of San Fernando, Romblon to disclose the earnings derived from the mining operation after the APMC’s statement claimed that it contributed revenues to the municipality.
“We are challenging the municipality of San Fernando and even Altai to disclose all those contributions given to anyone that will prove that they actually provided revenues. The revenues from fisheries, agriculture and tourism are still bigger compared to the earnings from the mining operation,” he added.
At the same time, Galicha said that the local government should not have allowed the two barges and a ship of APMC to leave Sibuyan Island amid its violations.
“Our position is that the two barges and the ship should be impounded for illegal docking at the port, including the trucks used in transporting the nickel ore, as they were accessories to the illegal activities in the area,” Galicha noted.
Galicha also branded as lies the claim of APMC that the Sibuyan Island was already in poor environmental condition prior to the mining operation.
“That is a big lie as the island is known for its rich biodiversity. That is illogical and fallacious,” he said.
According to Galicha, the APMC’s call for an impartial investigation undermines the authority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Senate.
“The DENR should be alarmed by this statement as it is an insult to the competence of DENR personnel,” he added.
The Senate is set to investigate the alleged violations committed by APMC after Sen. Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros filed a resolution calling on the upper chamber to look into the mining operation in Romblon.
At the same time, Galicha also answered APMC’s statement that it is not owned by political personalities after reports that the family of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian owns the mining company.
“What we are saying is that it is a Gatchalian led, in particular Kenneth Gatchalian, who is the second biggest shareholder of Pelican Resources Australia that has the control over Altai Philippines Mining Corp. through the Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corp.” Galicha explained.
Kenneth Gatchalian is the brother of the senator.
Galicha said that the APMC operates over 1,580 hectares of land in Sibuyan covering 3.4 percent of the total 445 square kilometer area in the island.
The DENR has suspended the operation of APMC as the former’s Environmental Management Bureau issued notices of violation to APMC for violation of Section 4 of Presidential Decree 1586 or the “Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System,” Republic Act (RA) 6969 or the “Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990,” RA 9275 or the “Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004,” and Presidential Decree 705 for cutting trees without a permit.
Galicha added that the human barricade will continue on the island after it started on Jan. 26, 2023.
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