CARITAS Philippines had expressed its support for the ongoing protest against the mining operation of Ipilan Nickel Mining Corp. in Brooke's Point, Palawan.

Over 1,000 protesters, including Brooke's Point Vice Mayor Jean Feliciano, held a candle lighting protest and prayer rally in a bid to denounce the ongoing mining operation of Nickel Mining despite the cease and desist order from the local government and lack of permit.

"Caritas Philippines is united with the citizens of Brooke's Point in opposing the operation of Ipilan Nickel Mining Corp," Caritas Philippines said in a statement late Sunday.

"We believe it is important to listen to the voice of the community regarding its negative impact on the environment and the lifestyle of the local people," said Bishop Colin Bagaforo, president of Caritas Philippines.

The social action and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said that anti-mining groups had barricaded themselves in front of Nickel Mining's office in Barangay Maasin since Feb. 18, 2023.

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"It would be good for our government to investigate Ipilan's violations because based on reports, like the case in Sibuyan, it also does not have a permit to cut down trees and build a dock and a vehicle road to their mine," said the bishop.

"We also call on the provincial government to declare Palawan as a no-mining zone to protect the natural resources of the so-called 'the last frontier' of the Philippines. This is especially important now that we are facing the climate emergency that is intensifying the calamities in our country."

Bagaforo said that Caritas Philippines will continue to be committed to the preservation of the environment.

He said the organization continues to promote environmental awareness and has participated in national and international conservation campaigns, including Laudato Si' and Rights of Nature.

The local government of Brooke's Point had earlier requested Joseph Sy, chairman of Global Ferronickel Holdings, to cancel the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement and Environmental Compliance Certificate of Nickel Mining to prevent further damage in the environment.

However, the mining firm remains unfazed despite the church's support to the protesters.

In a report by Palawan News, Alex Arabis, Nickel Mining manager, said the mining corporation will not stop its operations since it is providing jobs to local residents. He also pointed out that the majority of the protesters are not from Brooke's Point.

Bishop Socrates Mesiona, the Apostolic Vicar of Puerto Princesa (AVPP), also supports the ongoing anti-mining demonstration.

Mesiona said he is convinced the church needs to act in order to prevent disasters from happening, like the tragic flooding that struck the island in December 2022.

The AVPP, which oversees southern Palawan, has been a staunch critic of mining operations since 2002.