The Office of the Ombudsman upheld the complaint filed by the Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) against Brooke’s Point Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano for stopping the company’s operations which they said did not go through the proper process. Based on the Ombudsman’s consolidated decision, the mayor is suspended for one year without pay due to “Oppression or Grave Abused of Authority” under Section 4, Republic Act No. 6713.
“However, the presence of the aggravating circumstances that she is an educated lawyer and also took undue advantage of her official position merits the imposition of the maximum penalty of 1 year suspension” as stated in the Ombudsman’s decision order.
“In this case, Mayor Feliciano was trying to implement and enforce administrative orders that were not yet final and executory. As a lawyer herself, who is well-versed with legal processes, Mayor Feliciano would know the arbitrary effects of her actions and should have aired in the side of caution.” according to Ombudsman.
On February 21, 2018, the local government of Brooke’s Point demolished the structures of Ipilan Nickel Corporation. Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano, during the demolition, explained that the demolition is based on Section 444 of Local Government Code stating the power of the LGU to demolish illegal structures. The Mayor explained that the structures built by the mining company were illegal because the company failed to secure a certificate of locational clearance, building permit and fencing permit from the LGU. She also added that a copy of the violation was sent to the company on May 22, 2017, July 24, 2017 and August 11, 2017 but the mining company failed to respond.
Aside from the company’s violation with the LGU, the company did not have an Environmental Compliance Certificate and violated the Chainsaw Act and Strategic Environmental Plan Law.
In an interview, the mayor said she has not received a copy of the decision from the Ombudsman but plans to file a motion for reconsideration once she receives the decision.
Mayor Feliciano is known for boldly expressing her strong opposition to mining especially in her hometown because of the bad effects it has on the environment and the livelihood of her constituents who depend on agriculture.