Palawan Oil Palm Plantations and Land Grabbing , Philippines

In the island of Palawan, oil palm plantations displace indigenous people who lose their livelihood. This in a Biosphere Reserve. Local support from Catholic Church.

In 1990 the Island of Palawan was declared “Man and Biosphere Reserve” by UNESCO. Considered the ‘last ecological frontier’ of Philippines, it preserves the largest contiguous forest block in the country. However, in recent years mining projects and oil palm plantations in south Palawan are posing a threat on environment and local communities. At national level, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had planned the conversion of 15,000 – 20,000 ha into oil palm plantations through private initiative with the objective of reducing the dependence on imports and modernize the agricultural sector. Since 2003, the Provincial Government of Palawan is strongly promoting this agribusiness. The project is mainly operated by two companies: 1) Palawan Palm & Vegetable Oil Mills, Inc. (60% Singaporean and 40% Filipino-owned), and 2) Agumil Philippines, Inc. (75% Filipino-owned and 25% Malaysian). Their parent company is Malaysian Agusan Plantations Inc. Also, in recent years, a construction company, Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corporation, is entering the agribusiness becoming a land grabber itself. Until 2015, about 6,000 hectares of land have already been converted into oil palm plantations in the municipalities of Soforino Española, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, Rizal, Quezon, Aborlan and Narra, all of them in South Palawan, with a negative impact on the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and traditional and subsistence farmers. Local organizations have denounced that plantations have caused the collapse of family based economies, disappearance of non timber forest products (NTFPs) in which local economy relied, loss of agricultural land and crop diversity, obliterated traditional swidden practices, decrease of food security, loss of forests, limitations of free movement to reach upland fields and forests, exponential increase of pests over the traditional coconut crops, loss of biodiversity, loss of medicinal plants, increment of flash flood events, depletion of plantation soils, pollution of river sources and coastal area and health hazards caused by chemicals used in plantations. Affected communities claim that administrations like the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development are not assuming their role on efficiently monitoring the project’s socio-ecological impact, and that indigenous peoples have not given the necessary free and prior informed consent over their ancestral land. In addition, farmers engaged by contracts with oil palm companies have raised complaints about the unfair conditions and the lack of transparency to seal the agreements. Opposition to this project has been lead by local indigenous organization ALDAW (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch) since 2009. In 2014 indigenous people and traditional farmers formed the Coalition Against Land Grabbing (CALG). Other advocacy groups from Philippines and abroad have supported these local movements, including the local Bishop. Affected communities are opposing the project through several initiatives such as the submission on 2014 of a petition for a moratorium on oil palm expansion signed by more than 4,200 farmers and indigenous people, the filing of affidavits against plantations by local communities, campaigning to pressure UNESCO to preserve the island, collecting geotagging and audio-visual evidences on oil palm expansion, publicating reports, launching international on-line petitions and creating awareness campaigns among affected communities, among others.
Basic Data
NamePalawan Oil Palm Plantations and Land Grabbing , Philippines
ProvinceSouthern Palawan Province; Palawan Island
SiteMunicipalities of Soforino Española, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, Rizal, Quezon, Aborlan and Narra.
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesPalm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
The Filipino Government has estimated that 15,000 – 20,000 ha of south Palawan will be dedicated to oil palm plantation. In 2015, about 6,000 ha have already been converted.
See more...
Project Area (in hectares)15,000-20,000
Level of Investment (in USD)11,580,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population15,000
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesAgumil Philippines, Inc (AGPI)
Palawan Palm & Vegetable Oil Mills Inc (PPVOMI)
Agusan Plantations Group from Malaysia - Parent company of AGPI and PPVOMI
Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corporation (CAVDEAL) from Philippines
Green Power Palawan
Relevant government actorsDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO)

Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD)

National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP)

Palawan Provincial Office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)

Palawan Palm Oil Industry Development Council (PPOIDC)

Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA)

Philippine Oil Palm Development Office (PODO)
International and Financial InstitutionsLand Bank of the Philippines from Philippines - Financing of smallholder farmers
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters- Ancestral Land/Domain Watch, ALDAW: [email protected];;

- Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG)

- Rainforest Rescue (

- World Rainforest Movement (

- ICCA Consortium (

- Survival International (

- Bishop Pedro Arrigo

- Environmental Legal Assistance Centre (

- Palawan NGOs Network Inc. (

- Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (

- On-line campaigns and petitions:;
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
OtherChemicals in oil palm plantations
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherCrop pests, exacerbation of rural poverty, decrease in numbers of non-timber forest products, loss of medicinal plants, violations of indigenous' peoples rights
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Development of Alternatives- Implementation of more restrictive regulations on oil palm development to halt deforestation, habitat destruction, food scarcity, and violation of indigenous peoples’ rights.

- Moratorium over oil palm plantations.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project is still operative and on going, although there is resistance.
Sources and Materials

Executive Order no.23: the nationwide ban on the cutting of trees in natural and residual forest
[click to view]

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
[click to view]

Provincial Ordinance No. 739-04, Palawan

Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act (Republic Act 7611)
[click to view]

Presidential Degree (PD) No. 1468: "Revised Coconut Industry Code"
[click to view]

Certificate of Precondition of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act 8371 (IPRA): section 59


‘The emerging oil palm agro-industry in Palawan, the Philippines: Livelihoods, environment and corporate accountability’. Stockholm Environment Institute, Working Paper 2014-03.
[click to view]

The Palawan Oil Palm Geotagged Report 2013 (Part I). ALDAW and Rainforest Rescue.
[click to view]

The Palawan Oil Palm Geotagged Report 2013 (Part II). ALDAW and Rainforest Rescue.
[click to view]

WRM, Philippines: The increasing menace of oil palm plantations in Palawan (2012)
[click to view]


Informative note of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples
[click to view]

ICCA Consortium
[click to view]

[click to view]

World Rainforest Movement
[click to view]

Media Links

VIDEO: 'Oil pal aggression on Palawan UNESCO Mand & Biosphere Reserve' (ALDAW)
[click to view]

Other Documents

[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAndreia Francés Silva, Master Gestión Fluvial Sostenible y Gestión Integrada de Aguas, Asignatura ‘Ecología política y gestión de Aguas’
Last update08/02/2016