MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Protests in Zambales, Philippines, against 'irresponsible' mining

Published by MAC on 2010-05-20
Source: Business Mirror, Manila Bulletin

Zambales folks urge end to 'irresponsible' mining

Henry Empeno, Correspondent

Business Mirror (Philippines)

9 May 2010

IBA, Zambales - Residents from mining towns in this province are calling for an end to rampant and "irresponsible" mining which they said has brought death and destruction to both the environment and the people of Zambales.

In a rally held on May 5 in front of the capitol building here, 13 busloads of protesters from the 13 towns of Zambales slammed local officials, including Gov. Amor Deloso, for allegedly conniving with miners and turning a blind eye to destructive mining practices that they said result in floods, leaching of poison to the environment and destruction of crops.

"This is mostly the fault of politicians and their partners in the mining business who profit from these activities and have no regard for the environment or the people here," said Dolly Yanan, convenor of the Defenders of the Environment for Genuine Development of Zambales (Defend Zambales).

"We have to make everyone aware of the destruction that mining activities bring to the environment and the role played by politicians and officials in perpetuating destructive mining practices," she said.

At one point in the rally, the protesters pelted the images of Deloso and President Arroyo with dirt and stones taken from a mining site. Both officials, they claimed, are responsible for death and destruction in Zambales that are due to mining.

Before the Iba rally, the busloads of protesters motored from Sta. Cruz town, a mining community where leaching from a nickel stockpile at the height of a typhoon last year turned the coastal water red. They then stopped briefly in Masinloc where local officials recently ordered the demolition of outposts built by a mining operator.

The protesting residents were joined by activists from the Alyansa Tigil Mina, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), Makabayan, Defend Zambales Youth, as well as some Aeta tribesmen and members of the Nagkakaisang Biktima ng Kalamidad ng Botolan.

The KPD said in a statement that some 1,000 hectares of watershed area in Sta. Cruz town are now being destroyed by miners who were granted concessions by the government.

The miners, KPD added, did not bother to put up requisite safeguards like catch basins, siltation ponds or cover plants, thereby bringing pollution to nearby rivers and farmlands.

Deloso was not at the capitol during the rally. However, he had earlier defended small-scale mining activities as beneficial because they bring revenue to the provincial government and livelihood for the people.

He also said that in just nine months last year, the Zambales government already earned some P128 million from extraction fees, ore-transport permits and other mining-related taxes---an income that, he said, was not possible with big mining companies as these paid their fees and taxes to the national government.

However, Nelson Castro, officer in charge of the Zambales provincial environment office, confirmed to the media that illegal mining activities in Zambales have become rampant under the guise of small-scale mining, but added that his office was "powerless to stop it."

He explained that while permits for small-scale mining were indeed issued by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), which is supposed to be headed by the Central Luzon director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, he is outnumbered in the five-man board by all the other appointees of Deloso.

"They vote as a group against our single member in the PMRB so they can issue whatever permit they want. We want to bring some order here, but we can't enforce the laws," he added.

Green groups seek end to mining in Zambales

Claim extractive industries destroys farming, fisheries activities

By Marvyn N. Benaning

Manila Bulletin

5 May 2010

Environmental groups have expressed their unconditional support to the demand of the people of Zambales for a stop to large-scale mining in the province.

More than 3,000 people gathered at the Provincial Capitol in Iba, Zambales Wednesday and denounced the entry of mining operations.

The protesters claimed mining destroys the remaining forest cover in Zambales and threatens the Negrito ancestral domains in the area aside from affecting agricultural and fisheries activities.

"The Zambalenos are crying loud against the aggressive entry or mining companies, such as Rusina Mining, Coto Mines, NiHao Mineral Resources International and DMCI Mining Corp. We hope that this action sends a clear message to the candidates in Zambales, and they heed the peoples' calls", said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a national campaign against large-scale mining in the Philippines.

"We support the calls of the Zambalenos, and are one with them in demanding for a moratorium on destructive mining operations in the province," he added.

ATM is a group of more than 80 organizations all over the country that are against the revitalization of the large-scale mining industry in the Philippines.

Garganera stated that the mining projects in Zambales "poses direct and serious threats to the remaining forest covers, watersheds and ancestral domains of Aetas in Zambales."

Zambales hosts at least 12 Mineral Processing Sharing Agreements (MPSAs), a form of service contract between the government and mining companies.

"These mining projects will severely impact on the water source, agricultural lands and forest areas of Zambales", he said.

Garganera also charged the provincial government with actively supporting these mining projects, citing the case of Sitio Maporac, Barangay New San Juan in the town of Cabangan.

"We are aware that the provincial government has tacitly backed destructive mining there, under the guise of granting several small-scale mining permits that are actually involved in large-scale mining operations", he added.

He also lamented the fact that the opposition of Aetas, particularly from the Maporac Aeta Association (MAO), have landed on deaf ears, as tensions continue to rise in the locality due to continued operations of mining inside the ancestral domains, without the consent of the indigenous people there.

ATM is aligned with HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center -- Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/FOEI) and Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA).

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