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.

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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, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific CommoditiesPalm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe 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.

The project is operated at different levels by several types of private investors. Two companies lead the investment: Palawan Palm & Vegetable Oil Mills, Inc. (PPVOMI), which purchased 13 ha in Maasin, municipality of Brooke’s Point, to build an oil palm mill and a nursery and Agumil Philippines, Inc. (AGPI), which has access to land for cultivation through either purchase of land or contracted arrangements with smallholder farmers.

Smallholder farmers are themselves investors as well, either as small cooperatives or individually. They make 25-years-long arrangements with AGPI in a so-called outgrower scheme, where farmers provide the land and manpower and assume all the financial and managerial risk and legal labor responsibilities. AGPI provides seedlings and technical know-how, charging farmers a 10% management fee on its services and a 14% interest rate on delayed payments from farmers. Land Bank of Philippines offers those farmers 80% of the financial assistance, while AGPI provides the remaining assistance they need (at high interest). Most of the farmers engaged in the project are now at risk of economic collapse, fearing of losing their land if they’re unable to afford the loan payments.

The mill established in Maasin will process crude palm oil and palm kernel, with a milling capacity of 90 tonnes fresh fruit bunches per hour. According to information available in 2013, the facility will discharge its waste directly into the Maasin river, which is used for fishing by the local communities and a source of drinking water, thus creating a negative socio-environmental impact.

PPMOVI has obtained the environmental clearance for the oil mill and the nursery. However such clearance doesn’t apply to the total extent of the cultivation area. The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) has performed irregular monitoring over the mill and nursery. No evaluation of environmental impacts has been done in the plantations. In fact, PCSD established that the environmental impact of oil palm plantations is identical to that of any other agricultural activity.
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