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Philippine bishop decries felling of thousands of trees

Environmental chief vows probe after mining firm cuts swathe through 'last ecological frontier' on Palawan Island

Published: May 23, 2017 05:43 AM GMT

Updated: May 23, 2017 05:44 AM GMT

Philippine bishop decries felling of thousands of trees

Former Philippine Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez post this photograph of felled trees in the province of Palawan in her Facebook account. 

 

A Catholic bishop in the central Philippines decried the felling of trees in what the prelate described as the country's "last ecological frontier" on the island of Palawan.

A mining company felled thousands of trees in the island province, days after legislators rejected the confirmation of an anti-mining activist as Environment Secretary. 

"They cut down big and small trees alike. Some of those were probably centuries old," said Jean Feliciano, mayor of Brooke's Point town in Palawan.

The official said Ipilan Nickel Corporation, a mining company affiliated with Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc., felled the trees in the protected area of Mount Mantalingajan, a watershed.

The mining company was granted a tree-cutting permit in May 2016 but was cancelled in December.

Bishop Socrates Mesiona of Puerto Princesa described the tree-cutting activities a "tragedy."

"Palawan is the last frontier so we hope that our environment will be protected, especially the century-old trees," said the prelate in an interview over church-run Radio Veritas.

The prelate then lauded the unity of the people of Palawan and local officials who fought to protect the environment.

The local government of Palawan announced that it would sue the mining company and demand the cancellation of its environmental plan permit.

Former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez said the cutting of trees will affect 3,000 hectares of agricultural land and some 30,000 people in at least five villages.

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Lopez's successor, Roy Cimatu, a former general, vowed to investigate the logging activities in the town of Brooke's Point. 

"I will immediately convene my staff and look into this immediately," said Cimatu.

In a statement, Global Ferronickel said that its affiliate, Ipilan Nickel, has the necessary "special tree cutting permits."


 

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