Stop Mining in Sibuyan Island!
Stop Mining in Sibuyan Island!
Why this petition matters
As we enter a new government, we are faced with the same longstanding issues. We hope the government will hear the plight of my fellow people, as well as mine, to help us put a stop on all mining activities in Sibuyan Island. For years, we have battled the entry of mining companies and have continually stood our ground. Recently, the threat of mining was reignited by the lifting of Altai Philippines Mining Company’s suspension to conduct of exploration activity.
What has happened? October 2007, Armin Rios Marin, a brave local leader and anti-mining activist in Sibuyan island, was shot dead by a security guard of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation (SNPDC) in front of the protesters that were trying to stop the miners from hauling their equipment to the mining site. This was followed by a series of protests that resulted to the suspension of the companies permit in 2011 due to lack of social acceptability. Furthermore, in 2017 the former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary, the late Gina Lopez, issued an administrative order banning all prospective open-pit mines in the country.
Unfortunately, this only lasted a few years. Current DENR Secretary, Roy Cimatu, issued the Department Administrative Order No. 2021-40 that lifted the ban on open-pit mining. And now, Altai Philippines Mining Company has an active Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) that grants them the access to explore an area of 1,580 hectares for minerals, such as copper, gold, silver and complex ores. Thereby destroying forests, polluting waterways, and threatening the island's way of life.
Why is this a big deal? Unbeknownst to many, Sibuyan Island is one of the remaining bastions of biodiversity in the Philippines. It is one of the three islands in the province of Romblon and is located at the center of the archipelago — the heart of our country. The island basks under the magnificence of Mt. Guiting-Guiting. Romy Garduce, the first Filipino to ever summit Mt. Everest, trained in Mt. Guiting-Guiting and summited it numerous times in order to gain the strength required to climb the highest mountain on the planet. The island I call home is rich in biodiversity. In fact, Sibuyan Island is rightfully called the Galapagos of Asia. Why? Because for all its geological history, the island was never connected with any part of the Philippine archipelago. Hence, it is known for its unique intact chain of ecosystems and endemic flora and fauna. The island is home to over 700 vascular plant species, which includes at least 54 plant species endemic to Sibuyan and 180 species native to the Philippines. Sibuyan also has over 130 species of birds, 10 species of fruit bats and a host to various mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, many of which have yet to be catalogued. These numbers don’t even include the rare and threatened marine species such as the dugong, leatherback, green, and hawksbill turtles that inhabit the ocean surrounding Sibuyan. Nowhere will you see a rich biodiversity anywhere else in the Philippines. In the foothills of the mountain range are rivers and creeks, including the famous Catingas River, well-known to be among the cleanest rivers in the world. Furthermore, the Philippine National Museum has proclaimed that Sibuyan holds the record for the densest forest in the Philippines by stating that there are 1,551 trees per single hectare.
The richness of the island and its unparalleled beauty is something to behold. We must do our best to protect it and keep that way. This small island is all we have left. People live here peacefully and are contented with life’s simple pleasures. An island isolated from the noise of the city. We are pleased to have clean water flowing, to have an abundance of fish in our sea and fertile lands to plant trees and vegetables. This is our home, our beautiful home. Do we let big companies destroy what’s left of it? Do we let power and money step on the lives of the locals? Do we let companies poison the clean rivers and healthy land? Do we once again make the mistake of leaving our environment behind? Mining companies promise progress for the local community but we all know the primary interest of these companies is their own profit!
Time is running out and we cannot let another mining company enter and destroy our island, one of the Philippines’ last frontier. With the lifting of the suspension last year, there is a high possibility that Altai Philippines will attempt this year. We cannot let that happen. We must stop this not just for our own sake but also for the sake of preserving the beauty of Sibuyan Island for generations to come.
– Helly Yap Asoy, a concerned local of Sibuyan