Rights violation and health impacts due to big mining, confirmed, says green groups

Kalikasan PNE Press release

27 February 2016

Police brutality and land grabbng are some of the human rights
violations recorded during the 2-day National Fact Finding Mission
(NFFM) in Sta. Cruz, Zambales led by Kalikasan People’s Network for the
Environment (Kalikasan PNE). Aside from the widespread ecological
degradation, worsened health conditions were also suffered by the
residents due to several nickel mining operations in Zambales.

“Zambales PNP Provincial Command deployed Municipal police personnel
from Sta. Cruz and Malimanga upon the request of the mining company
David M. Consunji Incorporated (DMCI). The police employed excessive
force against the barricaders which resulted 17 protesters hurt. The
protesters have video and testimonies to prove this,” said Clemente
Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

During a focus group discussion (FGD), the barricaders in Brgy. Bayto
account their experience about the police harassments and intimidation.
Also, cases of land-grabbing by local government officials were
recorded. A barangay official from Lucapon South who is also involved in
mining operation in Sta. Cruz has land-grabbed hectares of forest areas
for nickel mining.

“Large-scale nickel mining operations in Zambales are proven detrimental
not only to our environment but to people’s rights and safety as well,”
Bautista added.

Four (4) mining companies with Mineral Production and Sharing Agreement
(MPSA) are currently operating in the municipality covering more than
12,000 hectares of land, extracting Nickel and Chromite. These are
Zambales Diversified Mining Corp. (ZDMC), Filipinas Mining (LAMI),
Benguet Nickel Mining Inc., and Eramen Minerals Corp. These corporations
are doing surface mining which strip the mountains of forest and
vegetation in Sta. Cruz to get nickel laterites. These laterites are
hauled and exported to China. These companies were into various issues
last year due to violations in environmental standards and were
suspended by the DENR.

“Community members have confirmed to us that there is an increase in the
prevalence of upper respiratory infection especially among children.
According to them, dusts from hundreds of trucks passing by their
communities loaded with mined soils may have caused this trend,” said
Rhea Candog, Environmental Researcher of Center for Environmental
Concerns (CEC).

The groups noted that during a medical study on December 2015 and
February 2016, diseases such as cough and asthma were the most numerous
cases observed among residents of the said municipality. Local health
workers have also confirmed the spike of these kinds of diseases
concomitant to the operations of mining.

“We will use these data in our campaign to stop mining in Zambales. We
will protest and file legal complaints to hold DMCI and other mining
companies accountable. We are campaigning zero-vote on May election
against Zambales provincial officials and candidates who are obviously
failed to protect the health, safety and livelihood of Zambalenos from
destructive mining, primarily against current Zambales Governor and
former PNP Chief Hermogenes Ebdane,” Bautista ended.

Among the groups that joined the mission is Kalikasan People’s Network
for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Center for Environmental Concerns
(CEC), Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM),
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Redemptorist Church, Alyansa ng
Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Central
Luzon (BAYAN–CL) and Move Now!–Zambales.###

Reference: Clemente Bautista, 0905 432 5211

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