IBA, ZAMBALES- The Sangguniaang Panlalawigan of Zambales heard the appeal of the residents of the Candelaria and Santa Cruz municipalities to finally cancel the permits of the 4 mining companies operating there.
The appeal was submitted by the group Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS) and other Peoples’ Organizations in the area who are protesting against the mining companies for allegedly causing harm to the environment and their livelihood.
In the “Ulat Sa Bayan,” where community members are given an opportunity to present their grievances during the hearing of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, CCOS representatives showed how the destructions of their environment: roads, and the contamination of nickel to rivers, farmlands, fishponds, creeks and part of the shoreline, affects their livelihood.
CCOS identified the mining companies as Benguet Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC), LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (LAMI), and Eramen Minerals Inc. (EMI) which operated in the areas in Santa Cruz and Candelaria despite some controversy regarding the companies’ permits.
In the hearing, representatives of the mining companies denied knowledge of any destruction caused by their alleged operations on the area. They instead told the Sangguniang Panlalawigan they only performed hauling operations, for which they do have permits.
The companies also denied having opened new extraction activities or expansions.
It was revealed, however, that only BNMI has the Ore Transport Permit. EMI, LAMI and ZDMC-DCMI are still waiting for their permits to haul.
For these, Zambales Vice-Gov. Angel Magsaysay warned the mining operators that the provincial government of Zambales has the obligation to protect its citizens and its environment before anything else, especially mining.
“Mining should not only give destruction to the livelihood of the residents, they should be responsible for the environment and bring economic development, instead,” she said.
Magsaysay’s statement was supported by Zambales Governor Amor Deloso. Deloso reminded them that during his first state of the province address, he warned he would penalize or cancel the permits of mining operators found violating their permits’ stipulations.
“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 takes care of the environment, gives livelihood to the residents, and sponsor development projects for the community,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sangguniang Panlalawigan members expressed disappointment over the non-action and seeming blindness of officials of the affected barangays and municipalities who remain deaf to the plight of their constituents.
The officials assured that those who are responsible for the destruction of the environment and livelihood of the people will face the consequences.
SP members urged the CCOS to wait until the recommendations are submitted by the fact finding committee – composed by various government agencies tasked to conduct assessment of the effect of nickel mining here. – Rappler.com
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