Manicani, Eastern Samar – Around 38 members including women and children of the Protect Manicani Island Society, Inc. (PROMISI) coming from the 4 Baranggays of Manicani Island converged near the foot of nickel ore stockpiles in Brgy. Buenavista of the island to jumpstart the island’s rehabilitation and put the words environmental protection into action by planting around 100 assorted timber trees.
Marcial Somooc, President of PROMISI, during his short speech at the start of the land reclaiming activity, said that the timber trees they were about to plant symbolize their desire to protect the environment especially their island. He also said that they chose a common area to plant the trees rather than on their respective backyards to send a message to their fellow island residents that protecting the island, as well as developing their island is a shared responsibility of all the residents and rehabilitating the mine site is a responsibility of Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC).
Last 2017, Hinatuan Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corporation, failed in its attempt to renew its expiring Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) until it expired on October of the same year.
Esayra Abucejo, member of PROMISI and one of the 30 strong campers at the DENR who called for non-renewal of HMC’s mining permit also joined the land reclaiming and tree planting, said, “This is only the beginning of our dream of finally healing our island and our relationship with our fellow community members.”
It can be recalled that on the 34th-day of their camp out in front of the DENR Central Office, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, during the dialogue facilitated by Bishop Crispin Varquez of the Diocese of Borongan with select PROMISI BOD members, said that DENR recognizes Manicani Island as part of the Guiuan Protected Landscape and Seascape and that any mining application in the island will be subject to existing laws including the NIPAS law.
Ms. Yolly Esguerra, National Coordinator of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), said in a separate interview that “the people of Manicani Island especially members PROMISI/SAMAMO have staked their lives for many years just to see their community free from mining”. She added that “Now that they return home to reclaim their land, it’s also time to unite its divided sons and daughters towards advancing development of the island, call for the rehabilitation of the mine site, and to ensure that no more mining will set foot ever in their small but beautiful island.
PROMISI recognizes that their struggle for a mine-free Manicani Island is long-term. They promise to continue pushing DENR to make Hinatuan Mining Corporation accountable for the damages made to the island’s environment and division among families, and more importantly the full rehabilitation of all mined sites in the island. Likewise, they continue to call on their Local Government Units to refrain from endorsing mining applications in their island because, among others, Manicani is a protected area and there is an existing provincial ordinance that bans large-scale mining in Eastern Samar.