Brooke’s Point vice mayor disappointed over endorsement of Lebach Mining Corp.

By Cheryl A. Galili

STAUNCH ANTI-MINING advocate Vice Mayor Jean Feleciano is frustrated that majority of the members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Brooke’s Point has endorsed Lebach Mining Corporation (LMC), a small scale mining company, allegedly despite many violations.

In a recent interview with the media, Feleciano related that Lebach’s endorsement was approved on July 24 by the SB led by Councilor Lanie Trinidad. Of all members, only one voted against.

Lebach is a small scale mining company applying for mining exploration and operation in Brooke’s Point, particularly in barangays Ipilan, Aribungos, Mambalot and Barong-Barong.

Feleciano cited a couple of reasons why Lebach’s application for endorsement shouldn’t be approved. The first was illegal drilling because it has not been given a permit for exploration; and failure to conduct public consultation, particularly in areas that will be directly affected by its proposed mining operation like Aribungos.

Recently, three mining employees of Lebach were apprehended by the Kilusan Sagip Kalikasan (KSK) for conducting an illegal drilling in the tenement claim it is applying for.

“Lebach’s employees were caught drilling in the absence of an exploration permit. That was the second time they were caught. Why would we endorse them when they’ve been violating the law?” she asked.

Consultation with residents in impact areas is part of the process in applying for an endorsement, she said. But Lebach failed to do it in Aribungos, particularly because its barangay leaders are against the small scale mining company.

If a consultation was done, Feleciano said Lebach only implemented it in barangay Ipilan. But most residents there are allegedly against its proposed mining project.

“The barangays that will be directly affected can tell that they were not consulted. There was a barangay that was consulted but residents do not want it. Why would we still approve its endorsement,” she asked further.

Feliciano explained too that base on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) there are no identified mineral zones in Brooke’s Point – reason enough for the SB not to endorse Lebach. She disclosed that in a validation made by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), the area Lebach wants to mine is planted with coconut trees and palay.

The Brooke’s Point vice mayor said she doesn’t understand why the SB sped up the approval of the motion of Trinidad, who is chairman of the Committee on Environment. She said they have already agreed that on mining matters, the SB should not urgently any mining endorsement.

She said Trinidad’s reason for pushing for the approval of the endorsement was that all the documents they require have been complied.

“It’s as if somebody is going to die if Lebach is not endorsed. Why, is there an emergency why their endorsement should be approved immediately,” she asked.(PalawanTimes)

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