The Supreme Court (SC) en banc on Tuesday issued a writ of kalikasan against five mining companies in Zambales extending up to Pangasinan to protect the environment and end the destructive mining operations in the province.
The respondents to the petition are Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), Eramen Minerals Inc. (EMI), LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (LAMI), Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC) and Shangfil Mining and Trading Corp. The petition was filed by concerned citizens of Sta. Cruz (Zambales) in connection with alleged mining practices.
The High Court also directed the Court of Appeals (CA) to hear the case and receive pleadings on it.
The mining companies were also ordered to file their verified return with the CA within a period of 10 days.
The case stemmed from a petition filed by Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS) against the said mining companies, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje and two of the DENR’s bureaus – Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), outgoing Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., and other local officials of the province.
In filing the petition, CCOS urged the High Court to issue a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) and direct the mining firms to take steps that will stop the contamination of the farms, villages, and water sources of Sta. Cruz due to unsystematic mining operations, and for the PNP Santa Cruz to enforce environmental laws, including the arrest of violators of mining laws, among others.
The CCOS also cited the destructive impact of typhoons in the past years resulting from unsystematic mining operations in Santa Cruz town and neighboring areas in Zambales, extending to Infanta, Pangasinan.
They said mining operations have caused much destruction in the mountains, watersheds, forests, farmlands, water systems and the livelihood of the residents, and pose a continuing threat to their lives.
Under the law, a writ of kalikasan is defined as a “legal remedy for persons whose constitutional right to ‘a balanced and healthful ecology’ is violated by an unlawful act or omission of a public official, employee, or private individual or entity,” as provided for under the Philippine Constitution.