Two bishops leading the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa, Palawan and Tanay, Rizal, have jointly condemned the violent dispersal and illegal arrest of rallyists protesting against the activities of Ipilan Nickel Corporation in Brooke’s Point, Palawan.
In a joint pastoral statement, Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Apostolic Vicariate of Tanay and Bishop Socrates Mesiona of the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa expressed support for the rallyists, whom they lauded for taking a stand against the “destructive mining” activities in their hometown.
“They have been peacefully protesting against the destructive mining I Brooke’s Point encroaching on Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape for the benefit of a few, rich and powerful vested interests who are not even from Palawan,” the bishops said.
“Close to a hundred” private security guards of Ipilan Nickel reportedly apprehended the rallyists on April 14 with the help of 30 policemen, based on the statement issued by the two apostolic vicariates. Some of the protesters were allegedly beaten up and injured.
Bishops Pabillo and Mesiona said the rallyists obtained permits and were clear on their demand for Ipilan Nickel Corporation to stop their operations in Brooke’s Point.
“Rather than fully complying with the rule of law, Ipilan Nickel Corporation acted in blatant defiance of the law by continuously operating its mine. Worse, the company took the law into its own hands by deploying its large private security force in violently dispersing the peaceful rallyists,” they said.
In a separate statement, Mesiona said the rallyists’ lawyers plan to file complaints of grave coercion against the security personnel of Ipilan Nickel Corporation. They will also lobby the municipal council of Brooke’s Point to pass a resolution seeking the immediate relief of the local police chief and the cops who took part in the dispersal of rallyists for allegedly conniving with Ipilan Nickel Corporation.
Mesiona said legal efforts are also underway to stop the company’s illegal mining operations.
Brooke’s Point Vice Mayor Jean Feliciano visited the six detained rallyists at the police station to show her full support for them. They will also receive legal assistance in the grave coercion charges they are facing.