The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has given Ipilan Nickel Corp. until today to explain why no criminal charges should be filed against the mining company over its alleged massive tree cutting in Brooke’s Point, Palawan.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mimaropa Regional Director Natividad Bernardino issued the order based on a directive by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who ordered a full investigation into Ipilan’s violations for cutting down thousands of trees within its mining area, even after the DENR had stopped its operations.
The DENR recently visited the mine site to investigate the allegations. Cimatu also had a dialogue with the officials of the company and the local government over the weekend.
The alleged massive tree-cutting earlier drew indignation from residents, led by Brooke’s Point Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano.
The DENR said Ipilan based on initial reports felled around 7,000 trees in 30 hectares of the 353 hectares of land covered by its mineral production sharing agreement ,or MPSA.
The DENR said although Ipilan had an existing one-year tree cutting permit expiring on May 26 this year, the same was deemed no longer effective since Dec. 14, 2016 when the DENR, under then Secretary Gina Lopez, cancelled the firm’s environmental compliance certificate.
Ipilan in the show cause order signed by Bernardino was given three working days from receipt to submit a reply before the DENR resolution.
Ipilan through its resident manager Ferdinand Libatique received the order on May 19.
Bernardino said unless properly explained what the INC did was “contrary to law and sufficient ground to file criminal complaint in a court of law.”
The regional director said the president of Ipilan “could be charged with qualified theft” for violation of the Revised Forestry Code.