SANTA CRUZ, Zambales: Residents since Tuesday have barricaded the national highway here, blocking hauling trucks of a mining firm from transporting nickel to a port, an official of the Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz (CCOS) said.
CCOS Chairman Dr. Benito Molino said haulers of Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation/ DM Consunji Inc. (ZDMC/DMCI), were stopped by residents led by two barangay councilmen from Brgy. Bayto.
“The barricade put up by the residents of Brgy. Bayto, led by Kagawad Raul Ecleo and Louie Mirador, is their way of defending their rights – the right to live, right of the next generation, right to livelihood and the right to a healthy and balanced ecology,” Molino added.
Brgy. Bayto is the barangay most affected when mud floods hit the town of Santa Cruz after Typhoon Lando struck in October last year.
Some 200 people staged a stake out along the highway to prevent movement of hauling trucks from the quarry site of ZDMC/DMCI. The group said they are also mobilizing people from the towns of Candelaria and Infanta in Pangasinan to strengthen their line.
The Manila Times learned that about 50 trucks were not allowed to pass through the barricade and remained in the quarry site. Each truck contains P25,000 to P30,000 of nickel, adding that the market price of nickel has gone down from P40,000 per truck.
The ZDMC/DMCI is one of the four mining companies operating in the town, which operates along with three other mining companies in Zambales the CCOS is opposing.
Molino said in October last year, almost the whole town of Santa Cruz, particularly Brgy. Bayto, was flooded with reddish mud and water, destroying many houses and appliances.
This also caused the death of two residents of Brgy. Bayto, as well as animals.
Molino added that residents in the villages raised alarm upon learning that Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., allegedly said that mining has nothing to do with the mud floods that affected the town.
“Because of these Bayto has the most number of people who joined the anti-mining rally after the typhoon,” he said.
Molino added that Mayor Consolacion Marty and officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources also cleared the mining companies of responsibilities for the mud flood and logs that hit the towns of Santa Cruz, Candelaria and Infanta in Pangasinan last year.
The Manila Times tried to get comment from Ebdane but a provincial staff who requested anonymity said the governor was unavailable to issue a statement.