Indigenous Peoples Unite Against Mining in Palawan

by June 5, 2010

Indigenous Peoples were 'shocked' to learn this week that the application of three new Philippine mining firms has been approved into one Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) on Palawan, a UNESCO "Man and Biosphere Reserve" in the Philippines.

Approval of this FTAA application will allow the Canadian mining firm MBMI and its Philippine Partners to substantially increase exploration activities and to progress toward full-scale nickel operations in the municipalities of Rizal, Bataraza, and Narra.

In response to the news--and the ongoing incursion of mining developments in Palawan--more than 500 Indigenous Peoples have arranged to hold a 'Karaban' anti-mining rally on 7 June, 2010.

A 'Karaban' in the Palawan indigenous language is a bamboo quiver that holds darts for the blowpipe, explains ALDAW, in a newly released press statement (see below). "It is a symbol of ethnic identity; but in this specific case, it signifies that people are willing to take whatever action is necessary to stop the penetration of mining companies on their traditional territories."

More Mining for Palawan: Indigenous Peoples and Farmers Unite Their Forces in a Peaceful Protest

While the so-called "responsible mining" rhetoric is being promoted in the Philippines, mining pressure is on the rise and may soon jeopardize the ecological sustainability of Philippines' Last Frontier. The province of Palawan is part of the "Man and Biosphere Reserve" program of UNESCO and hosts 49 animals and 56 botanical species found in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is also the home of isolated and vanishing indigenous communities.

"We are shocked by the recent news circulated through the website of MBMI Resources Inc [A Canadian-based mining company focused on the exploration and development of nickel]" says Artiso Mandawa, National Coordinator of ALDAW (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch). "The mining applications of Narra Nickel Mining and Development, Inc. (NNMDC), Tesoro Mining and Development, Inc. (TMDI), and McArthur Mining, Inc. (MMI) - approved through a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) - will surely lead to the devastation of precious watersheds, indigenous ancestral territories and productive rice-land. Once again, the rights of our indigenous and farmers communities have been completely bypassed in violation of national and international laws. We will extend any pressure we can to ensure that the Department of Environment and Natural resources will not endorse the FTAA".

Presently, the FTAA of MBMI has been endorsed by the Philippines' Mine and Geoscience Bureau and is awaiting final approval by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Meanwhile, Alyansa Tigil Mina, the largest anti-mining advocacy group in the Philippines, is investigating the issue with the concerned authorities.

The MBMI based in Vancouver (Canada) holds joint venture interests in Alpha nickel property, a 3,277 hectare property located in Palawan, as well as in Olympic Group of properties, which include Bethlehem, Mt. Bulanjao, and Malatgao properties. In the southernmost portion of Palawan, the Bulanjao range, with its unique ultramafic forest, is one of the best-conserved biodiversity hot spots on the island. A total of six major rivers from the mountain range supply water to both migrant and indigenous population.

"According to the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan the Bulanjao range fall into the so called 'Core Zones' of maximum protection, and any mining in the area represents a blatant violation of Republic Act 7611" says Artiso Mandawa. According to ALDAW, the actual "matching" of GPS data to photographs, which they have carried out, has revealed that road construction, as well as mining exploration and extractive activities on Mt. Bulanjao, have already been pursued by Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation. Thus all efforts should be made to safeguard what is left, rather than pursuing additional mining activities in this ecological paradise.

Overall, the Philippine Government continues to ignore the geotagged evidences provided by ALDAW; and MacroAsia, the flagship company of airline and cigarette magnate Lucio Tan (Philippines' richest man) continues to pursue full-scale operations in the Gantong range, in spite of the fact that its concession includes "core zones" and watersheds which are protected by the law.

With 50 meters of trunk from canopy to forest floor, the forest of Mt. Gantong in Brooke's Point Municipality (Palawan) harbours the oldest trees in the southern hemisphere and several endangered species listed by the World Conservation Union. Maman Tuwa, a senior member of one of the isolated indigenous community of Mt Gantong, fears that MacroAsia corporation will destroy the life of his community: "if our mountains are deforested," he says "how are we going to survive? What are we going to plant if the soil of the uplands will be washed down to the lowlands. How are we going to feed our children? We'll surely die".

According to ALDAW, the endorsement of MacroAsia by the Sangunyan Bayan (Municipal Board) of Brooke's Point is illegal, because it has bypassed local decision-making process and consultations with the affected communities. While waiting for additional permits from other government agencies, the company has already transferred some of its heavy equipment into the area, and this has raised additional concern from local communities.

As a result of these 'developments', on 7 June 2010, a 'Karaban' anti-mining rally has been organized. In the Palawan indigenous language, 'Karaban' is the bamboo quiver containing the blowpipes' darts. It is a symbol of ethnic identity; but, in this specific case, it signifies that people are willing to take whatever action is necessary to stop the penetration of mining companies on their traditional territories.

The anti-mining rally will be composed of about 500 protesters and will leave with motor vehicles from the Southern Municipality of Brooke's Point between 6-7:00am. From there it will head towards the Capital city of Puerto Princesa, stopping in each Municipality along the way, for a 1-kilometre walk.

The rally is being supported by various organizations and religious groups such as the Ipilan parish of "Our Lady of Lourdes", the Global Legal Action on Climate Change, The Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), the Palawan NGO Network, Inc (PNNI), The Federation of Tribes in Palawan (Natripal) and ALDAW (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch). Participants from different barangays such as Barong-Barong, Aribungos, Ipilan, Mabalot, Calasaguen and Maasin, Brooke's Point will join the rally, as well as activists from neighbouring municipalities (e.g. Narra, Espanola and Aborlan).

The main scope of the peaceful effort will be to request the Provincial Government not to endorse the proposed plans of MacroAsia and Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC), and to clarify matters on MBMI's newly approved FTAA application.

Says Artiso Mandawa "Gone are the days when indigenous communities were fighting alone for their rights, now we have joined forces with religious groups, irrigators associations, farmers associations, fishermen groups and we have also established strong linkages also with other supporters abroad such as Survival International. This unity is also our strength and our fight will continue until Palawan is declared a No-Go Zone free from mining activities".

For more information and background on Palawan, watch ALDAW videos:,,; or contact the ALDAW Network at and Alyansa Tigil Mina at or

What You Can Do

Sign a Petition to Stop Mining in Palawan!

And address your concerns to:


Hon. Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra:





See below for an update and photos from the protest, courtesy of ALDAW

Karaban Rally Update

IC Magazine is 100% reader funded
Join us & grow indigenous media in Canada

  • debz
    June 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    To all government officials please take an action on this mining in palawan there is no benefits towards people especially indigenous people that living in a forest.. the forest is their sources of everything.MINING it can RUIN our NATURE!


  • Leizel
    June 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    To real proponents of anti-mining in Brooke's Point:
    Is there a signature campaign to involve others in Palawan, particularly in Brooke's Point, who do not have access to internet?
    I don't know exactly what happens to signing of petition online. Who follows up, etc?
    You have organized successful anti-mining campaign in the past. I join you in prayer for this endeavor.


    • Campaign Management Team
      June 23, 2010 at 7:18 am

      Dear Leizel,

      At this moment in time, there is no petition on paper being signed by members of the public opinion, as we would have difficulties to manage this province-wide. As far as concerning the online petition, we will make a print out of this, after we receive a sufficiently high number of signatures and forward it to the President. An online letter can also be downloaded from the Website of Survival International and be posted to the target politicians. However, we are waiting for the names of the newly elected officials at the national level (eg. DENR) to update the letter accordingly. We have also received several letters of support from different foreign institutions and, soon, we will protocol these with the offices of the various government agencies in Palawan.

      Maraming salamat po for your support to our campaign

      The ALDAW Campaign Management Team (CMT)

  • June 8, 2010 at 6:24 am

    To mine in a UNESCO World heritage site and part of the coral triangle is the worst thing they can do.
    This will not only destroy our World Heritage site but will destroy the richness of our marine biodiversity.
    Palawan is our last frontier. We must not allow mining here and must stop it.
    We cannot afford to have another BP oil spill in this area.
    We are in the center of the coral triangle. All the people who rely on the oceans resources for food and livelihood will be affected.
    the countless species still to be discovered will disappear.
    This must be STOPPED.

    Antonio M. Claparols
    Ecological Society of the Philippines


  • catch
    June 12, 2010 at 1:56 am

    us youth can make little things to help preserve everything and we can make a lot of noise for the one' in power to act. "don't break it if you don't know how to fix it" T.T


  • Thunderbeing
    June 18, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Let me get this right there is a new leader in the Philippines and the first thing he does is give mining companies permission to destroy and oppress??I will look into this in the coming week Philippines.


  • Thunderbeing
    June 18, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    My mistake it is the old presidency of Gloria Arroyo who is responsable for this lets hope and pray that the new president fixes what she broke out there and this situation being one of them.Will continue to monitor this situation though.


  • June 21, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Hey. Just a quick note, I added a few photos from the protest and an update, to the bottom of the article, courtesy of ALDAW.

    @Leizel: I'm not aware of any signature campaigns at the moment, but ALDAW is carrying the online petition. I'm sure they'll forwarded it to all relevant politicians, if they haven't already done so.

    I'll ask them if they have have anything going for people w/o access to the Internet. Thanks for your patience.


  • Tisoy
    June 23, 2010 at 3:14 am


    This Artiso Mandawa "tisoy Man of ALDAW National Coordinator, thanks for continues support and dissemination of online petition to stop mining. This struggle not only for our time but also for the next generation.


  • Lenie Joy Nanong
    June 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    To all government officials please take an action on this mining in palawan there is no benefits towards people especially indigenous people that living in a forest.. the forest is their sources of everything.MINING it can RUIN our NATURE!


  • Noy P.
    September 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    The benefits that mining brings to the surrounding community is but a drop in a big bucket - there will be ripples on the surface, but deep beneath, it is not affected - and insignificant compared to the damage wrought on the environment. The poor will continue to be poor, only the owners and shareholders of the mine will get rich - and they will take the money and spend it elsewhere. And, when the mining is finished, what will the people of Brooke's Point be left with? Lands not fit for planting, contaminated drinking water and barren mountains.
    I should know; I work in a mine processing plant.
    To the Campaign Management Team, Atty. Jean Feleciano and people of Brooke's Point, please do not give up the fight - the future of your children and grandchildren depend on you.


  • pleizel
    October 27, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    BIG news on mbmi. They have made 3 million dollars and are going to put this into nickel mine. They borrowed another 600,000. This might be enough to start mine but not clean up the mess they will make. People of Brook's Point we must rally to save the beauty.

    MBMI RESOURCES INC. ("MBMI" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE: MBR) reports that it has arranged a non-brokered Private Placement financing for up to 16,666,666 Units priced at $0.18 per Unit for gross proceeds of $3 million. Each Unit will consist of one common share and one half warrant. Each whole warrant will be exercisable for one common share at $0.25 for a period of two years following the closing.

    The net proceeds of this financing shall be used for the development of MBMI's Palawan, Philippine nickel mineral properties and for general corporate purposes.

    MBMI is focused on the exploration and development of nickel mineral properties and with its Philippine partners has executed a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement ("FTAA") with the Philippine government with respect to the Alpha, Bethlehem and Rio Tuba properties. The FTAA will allow MBMI and its Philippine Partners to progress toward development of full-scale operational programs at each property.

    MBMI and its Philippine partners have an interest in nine nickel laterite projects in the Philippines, covering an area greater than 22,000 hectares. MBMI's objective is to become a major supplier of high-grade nickel products to primary industrial consumers in Asia.


  • aldaw network
    October 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Dear Pleizel,

    Thank you for the information that you have provided on MBMI. These are sufficiently detailed and this might suggest that you might be more familiar than us on the future plans, capacity and operations of MBMI. Of course, if all info are accurate, we could use them for our international campaign to save Palawan from mining destruction. If you have more of these information that you would be willing to share with us, please let us know.

    We look forwards to hearing from you

    The Aldaw Campaign Management Team


  • Jade Estrella
    February 4, 2011 at 3:03 am

    .......................ano bang nakain ng mga tao na nagpahintulot na mag mina sa palawan sa pagkakaalam ko may approval talaga yan sa lokal gov. dun, ano ba iniisip nila PERA nlang ba talaga...ang KAPAL talaga ng mga pag mumukha nilang lahat....hindi nman tayo mga tanga, alam naman talaga natin kung ano ang kahihinatnan kapag matuloy yan, alam din natin kung ano ang magiging resulta ng mga lugar na nag undergo ng mining at alam natin kung gaano ka importante ang palawan..............kung may kapangyarihan lang ako, talagang durog durogin ko ang mga taong sakim na yan.......ano ba iniisip ng governo natin bakit parang normal lang ang nangyayari, kung tutuosin governo ang unang concern para dyan, governo ang mag protect at unang tumanaw kung ano ang maganda at hindi maganda para sa bayang kinatatayuan nila, e bakit mga private organization pa ang tumayo at gumawa ng aksyon para dito..............BULOK n b talaga ang pamamalakad ng ating GOVERNMENT, maliban sa CORRUPT, SAKIM pa.................

    nasabi ko to kasi inis na inis n talaga ako sa mga nangyayari sa may nakita rin ako na mga lugar na nag undergo ng mining, grabe angsakit, kasi, para bang, patay na ang mga lupa na wala nang tumutubong damo,,, kailangan ba mg sacrifice ng kalikasan para tayo magkapera at ganun nba kahirap ang pilipinas para ibenta natin ang ating isa pa ha, meron din akong nakita na mga bundok na hinahakot ang lupa nito at dinadala siguro sa ibang bansa kasi kinakarga sa mga malalaking barko, eh, ilang barko kaya ang dumarating sa isang araw , mga 20 cguro ka barko para mg hakot, isipin nyo yan, hinahakot na ang mga bundok natin, until now cguro patuloy parin yun kasi hindi pa naubos ang bundok na binayaran nila sa ating governo, para bang binili nila at malaya na sila kung ano man ang gustohin nilang gawin sa bundok na yun, sa may bandang mindanao yun eh, sa SURIGAO, tapos makita mu na lng na patag na ang paligid nawala na ang bundok, cge nga hindi kba matakot nyan, angsakit talaga............mga sakim kasi mga nasa governo eh...syempre may share yan sila sa kita ng mining eh bakit ba sila pumayag kung walang offer dba, eh alam nman nila na mali yan...sakim kasi eh...........panu kaya matigil ang mga ganyang gawain.....sana marinig ng mga pilipino eto nang sila ay magising din......

    isipin nyo kung ganon din ang mangyari sa palawan.....NAKAKATAKOT......ano pang ipagmamalaki natin kung mawala ang ganda ng palawan.....


Leave a Response