FNI subsidiary scores legal win against Brooke’s Point LGU

Published June 18, 2021, 3:16 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The subsidiary of Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc. (FNI), the third-largest nickel ore producer in the Philippines, has scored a win against Mayor Jean Feliciano of Brooke’s Point, Palawan after years of legal battle.

In a decision, the Office of the Ombudsman has found Feliciano guilty of “Oppression or Grave Abuse of Authority” following her illegal actions in stopping the operations of Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) and demolishing mining properties.

As a result, Feliciano is “suspended for one year from service without pay” for taking “undue advantage of her official position” as an “educated lawyer.”

Records show that Feliciano issued a Closure Order dated 22 May 2017, a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) dated 24 July 2017, and a Demolition Order dated 11 August 2017 against INC on the strength of a resolution from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which revokes the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of INC.

At the time, the DENR resolution has yet to attain finality amid INC’s motion for reconsideration.
Feliciano, however, immediately led the demolition of gates, fences, staff house, and other structures in the mine site.

But then, in a June 5, 2020 resolution, the DENR eventually confirmed the validity of INC’s ECC and recalled the CDO it issued.

“We have always conducted our operations under applicable rules and regulations and remain firmly committed to responsible mining. We hope this decision will allow us to move towards community development and sustainable growth in Brooke’s Point and nearby communities,” Carlo Matilac, project operations head of INC, said.

The cutting of trees in the area earlier elicited reactions from some quarters, but the Office of the Ombudsman noted that INC had a valid Special Tree Cutting and EarthBalling Permit.

The Office of the Ombudsman also cited the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) between the government and INC, which remains in force. And that the local government of Brooke’s Point is bound by the MPSA and the mayor should have dealt with INC in “good faith” before rushing to issue any adverse orders and destroy mining properties.