CA denies plea of residents of Zambales to ban mining operations
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the plea of some residents of Santa Cruz, Zambales for a reversal of an earlier ruling that dismissed a petition seeking a Writ of Kalikasan and an environmental protection order against all mining operations in the province.
In the 5-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Renato Francisco, the appellate court affirmed its 2017 decision that also lifted the provisional Writ of Kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court in June 2016. The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy that upholds a citizen's right to a healthy environment.
"A perusal of the motion for reconsideration reveals no new and meritorious arguments and yields mere rehashed arguments, which had already been exhaustively discussed and squarely passed upon by this Court in the Resolution sought to be considered," the CA noted.
It added: "Accordingly, petitioners' motion for reconsideration is hereby denied for lack of merit."
In its 2017 decision, the CA ruled that the closure order issued by former environment secretary Gina Lopez makes the petition of the Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz, Zambales against 5 mining firms moot and academic.
The firms include BenguetCorp Nickel Mines, Eramen Minerals, LNL Archipelago Minerals, Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation, and Shangfil Mining and Trading Corporation.
The petitioners claimed that these mining firms violate their right to a healthy environment. They also claimed that the firms' mining activities destroy the irrigation system and ecosystem not only in Santa Cruz, Zambales, but also in nearby towns, from Candelaria, Zambales to Infanta, Pangasinan.
Accusing the firms of having unsystematic mining operations, the petitioners said they are causing water, air, and soil pollution and harming rivers, farmlands, fishponds, and even residential areas.
The petitioners argued that it is the court's duty to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, and to make sure there is strict compliance to the closure and suspension orders of the environment department.
The petitioners also noted that a permanent environmental protection order should have been issued against the mining firms. – Rappler.com