May 21, 2017: Chainsaw massacre of Palawan forest probed
BROOKE’S POINT — For newly appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, his first field work here was both a job orientation and a decision-making moment.
A military career officer all his life, Cimatu was on unfamiliar territory but did not hesitate to ask the most basic questions, whose answers he would have been expected to know as the country’s top environmental officer.
“Please explain to me what MPSA (mineral production sharing agreement) is, and why this company has possession of this land,” he asked his staff on Friday at a dialogue between officials of a mining company and the local government deep in the mountains here.
Cimatu was in Palawan to investigate claims that the company, Ipilan Nickel Corp. (INC), had illegally cut thousands of old-growth trees. Days earlier, hundreds of Brooke’s Point residents, led by Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano, had stormed the INC compound to stop the tree-cutting.