CANDELARIA, Zambales: Six people were arrested on Monday while police dispersed more than 200 residents of Barangay Uacon in this town who blocked the national high to prevent hauling trucks of Benguet Nickel Mines, Inc. (BNMI) in transporting nickel ore from the mine site to the port in Barangay Binabalian of this town.
Arrested residents were identified as Marlo Murciano, Elmer Manamtam, Bitoy Ednalan,Roy Edejer, Baba Edejer, Jojo Excio, and Charm Jad Barrera.
The policemen, armed with truncheons and riot shields, escorted about 100 hauling trucks of BNMI out of the mine site and warned protesters they will be dispersed if they become violent.
About 20 BNMI blue guards from the Longinus Security Agency were also deployed to secure the highway on Sunday to ensure that hauling trucks safely pass through the human barricade.
BNMI is one of the biggest mining operators in Zambales, reportedly owned by Philip Romualdez, the brother of senatorial candidate and Rep. Martin Romualdez.
According to Dr. Benito Molino, head of Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS) a group advocating an end to destructive mining activities in Zambales, Binabalin Port is where nickel ore, laterite and black sand from the mountains are harvested, loaded in cargo ships and exported to China.
During the barricade, village resident Lolita Jimenez called on Romualdez to prove his concern for the people according to his political ads, by asking his brother to stop the destructive mining operations of BNMI, especially in Zambales.
The residents vowed to continue the barricade until destructive mining is stopped in their town.
The barricade in Barangay Uacon is the second to be staged by the residents demanding for a stop of mining operations in the province.
Since January 19 hauling operations of Zambales Diversified Metals Corp./DMCI has been paralyzed when residents of Barangay Bayto in Sta. Cruz staged a human barricade that also prevented its hauling trucks from taking out nickel from the mining site.
Molino said the peaceful barricade was armed with a resolution by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zambales calling for a moratorium on mining operations in Sta. Cruz.
On Oct. 18, 2015, the towns of Infanta in Pangasinan as well as Sta. Cruz and Candelaria in Zambales were flooded with reddish mud and logs which the residents blamed to mining sites in the province.
The mining firms – BNMI, Eramen Minerals, Inc. (EMI), LnL Archipelagic Minerals, Inc. (LAMI), and ZDMC/DMCI – denied their mining operations caused the flooding.
The barricading residents also called on the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MBG) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to implement the said resolution calling for a moratorium.