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ZAMBALES, Philippines – In his first hour in office as the highest official of the province, Zambales Governor Amor Deloso issued Executive Order No. 1 that temporarily stopped all mining operations in the province.
Deloso read the contents of his first executive order in his inaugural speech on Thursday, June 30, at the People’s Park in front of the Capitol Building here.
This comes after the Supreme Court issued a writ of kalikasan recently against 5 mining firms operating in Zambales, based on a petition filed by residents of Santa Cruz town and other neighboring towns.
By issuing Executive Order No. 1, Deloso said his administration aims to protect the environment and uphold the dignity and integrity of the province’s residents.
“Binihag ng mga minero ang Santa Cruz sa loob ng 75 taon, maraming mga negosyante na hindi taga-Zambales ang naging milyonaryo, ngunit walang kayamanang iniwan para sa mga mamamayan maliban sa alikabok,” he said.
(Santa Cruz town has been held hostage by miners for 75 years, and many non-Zambales businessmen have become millionaires, but nothing has been left for the residents except for dust.)
He added, “Mining should provide social engineering before and during their [mining] operations…Not a single school or housing project were built for the community.”
Executive Order No. 1 stated that after the onslaught of Typhoon Lando in October 2015, thick deposits of earth were seen cascading “along bodies of water and overflowing to farmlands, access roads and residential areas downstream,” resulting in massive flooding throughout the province, especially in low-lying areas.
Last February, residents of Barangay Bayto in Santa Cruz town barricaded their streets to prevent the hauling trucks of a mining company from transporting nickel ore to the port owned by Zambales Diversified Metals Co., (ZDMC) Inc.
The residents complained that many barangays in Santa Cruz had suffered heavily from mining operations. In the aftermath of Typhoon Lando, the residents said that their communities were covered with reddish mud, and many farm animals had died as a result.
The alleged inaction by municipal and provincial authorities on their plight reportedly led residents to join the anti-mining protests.
In May, the residents filed a writ of kalikasan case against mining firms and officials of the provincial government, accusing them of allowing irresponsible mining practices in the province.
Included in the case was former Zambales governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr, whom Deloso defeated in the May 2016 polls. – Rappler.com