IBA, Zambales: Residents of this province, particularly of the towns of Candelaria and Santa Cruz have urged the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) here to cancel the permits of four mining companies which continue to destroy their communities.
The Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz, Zambales (CCOS), Defend Zambales and several peoples’ organizations oppose the operation of four mining companies they accused of harming the environment and their livelihood.
The anti-mining advocates showed proofs of destruction in their environment, roads and the nickel contamination of rivers, farmlands, fishponds, creeks and part of the shoreline that affect their livelihood during the recent Ulat Sa Bayan where community members face the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members to present their grievances.
They named the mining companies as Benguet Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI); Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC); LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (LAMI) and Eramen Minerals Inc. (EMI), all operating in Santa Cruz and Candelaria despite alleged irregularities in their permits.
During the hearing, representatives of the four mining companies denied knowledge of the destructions their operations have caused and told the SP that they only conduct hauling operations.
The mining companies also denied having opened new extraction activities or expansions.
It was revealed during the hearing that only BNMI has the ore transport permit while EMI, LAMI and ZDMC-DCMI are still waiting for their permits to haul.
Zambales Vice Gov. Angel Magsaysay warned the mining operators that the provincial government has the primordial obligation to protect its citizens and its environment.
“Mining should not render destruction to the livelihood of the residents. They should be responsible for the environment and bring economic development, instead,” she said.
Governor Amor Deloso echoed Magsaysay’s statement as he reiterated his warning to penalize or cancel the permits of the mining operators who are found violating conditions in their permits.
“What we need are investors, like mining operators, to be responsible to the communities where their operations are based,” Deloso said.
“Mining is a very lucrative business, but what we need are those who will practice responsible mining, who take care of the environment, give livelihood to the residents and sponsor development projects for the community,” he added.
SP members expressed disappointment over the inaction and seeming blindness of the officials in the affected barangay (villages) and municipalities to the plight of their constituents.
The officials gave the assurance that those who are responsible for the destruction of the environment and people’s livelihood would face the consequences for their actions.
They assured the group to mete the necessary sanction against mining firms and local officials who will be found responsible by the fact-finding committee tasked to conduct assessment on the effect of nickel mining here.