Violent dispersal, illegal arrests in community barricade vs Zambales mining condemned by green group

Kalikasan PNE Press Releasereen group

9 February 2016

The environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
(Kalikasan PNE) condemned today the violent dispersal and illegal arrest
of two community members in an ongoing people’s barricade against four
different mining operations in the town of Sta. Cruz, Zambales province.

“We condemn the violence inflicted by the Philippine National Police
(PNP) upon the people of Sta. Cruz to pacify their just demands against
the destructive mining operations in Zambales. The police has once again
sided with the large-scale miners despite these companies’ repeated
environmental and health impacts upon the people of Zambales,” said
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Residents of Bayto village in Sta. Cruz barricaded the roads to prevent
the passage of the miners’ trucks that carried the extracted soil. This
paralyzed the operations of the said mining companies, namely Zambales
Diversified Mining Corp. (ZDMC), Filipinas Mining (LAMI) , Benguet
Nickel Mining Inc., and Eramen Minerals Corp.

The PNP aggressively dispersed the barricade just this February 7,
resulting in the injury of residents that resisted the dispersal, and
the illegal detention of two barricaders.

The mine sites were suspended in April last year due to violations of
environmental standards, but eventually resumed operations after just
three months after having supposedly complied with regulations of
authorities.

“Mining operations in Zambales have caused chronic water, air, and noise
pollution to communities in proximity to their operations and roads.
They have worsened the destruction brought by Typhoon Lando in October
last year, where locals witnessed red mud flows from the denuded
mountains flooding their homes and rice fields,” explained Bautista.

The group cited a fact finding mission conducted last year by the
environmental non-government organization Center for Environmental
Concerns – Philippines (CEC), which reported sediments flowing from the
excavation sites due to strong rains brought by typhoon Lando. The
disaster affected more than 13,790 families, resulted in four
casualties, and incurred massive damages to livelihood.

CEC noted that approximately more than 1,000 hectares of vegetation have
already been cleared due to mining operations.

Kalikasan PNE said the temporary suspension orders were stop-gap
measures that did not give a permanent solution to the consistent
violations of environmental and health laws perpetrated by the mining firms.

“We are tired of watching the ceaseless cat-and-mouse games of the Mines
and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) suspending these mining firms in Zambales,
only to allow them to reopen after a nominal fulfillment of regulations.
We demand the MGB to permanently close down these repeated offenders who
have done nothing but cause harm towards the local communities and
ecosystems,” Bautista ended.#

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site:
www.kalikasan.net