DENR orders mining firm to stop activities in Romblon

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered a mining company to stop its exploration and construction activities in Romblon amid protest actions from local residents that already turned violent.

At the same time, the DENR said it already ordered its local office in Romblon to file appropriate charges, if warranted, against the Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) for reportedly cutting trees without permit.

Local residents have bene up in arms in the mining activities in Sibuyan Island, arguing that such activities have no place in a small area since it could damage the ecosystem which would eventually lead to adverse impacts on them.

In a statement, the DENR said they already issued a Cease and Desist Order against the construction and operation of its causeway in Sitio Bato, Brgy. España, San Fernando, Romblon on Feb. 6.

"It also ordered the DENR Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in the Province of Romblon to file appropriate legal actions against APMC if warranted, on the reported cutting of trees without permit and to conduct an investigation on the alleged damage to sea grass and other marine resources as a result of the construction of the causeway project," the statement read.

Aside from the Cease and Desist Order, the DENR also ordered the suspension of the ore transport permit and for the APMC to sop transporting ore from the contract site to the causeway.

The transportation of ore was among that stirred the protest action in Romblon as local residents tried to prevent the company from leaving with the ore loaded in trucks.

The stoppage of activities of the APMC are is covered in the Joint Order issued by the DENR.

Other instructions from the DENR include the denial of the APMC's application for Miscellaneous Lease Agreement for alleged violation of the Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, or the Public Land Act, and its related issuances; filing of appropriate charges for illegal cutting of trees; and, the conduct of investigation on the alleged damage / destruction of seagrass and other marine resources.

"All these orders are immediately executory upon receipt," the DENR statement read.

"The DENR firmly assures the public, especially the residents of Sibuyan Island, that the Department continues to strictly implement environmental laws in order to ensure the safety of the community and promote inclusive development in the Province of Romblon," it added.