The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zambales has heard the appeal of the residents of Candelaria and Santa Cruz towns in this province to cancel the permits of four mining companies which reportedly continue to destroy their communities.

The appeal was submitted by the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS) and other peoples’ organizations in the area who are protesting against the four mining companies operating which allegedly harm their environment and their livelihood.

In the “Ulat Sa Bayan,” where community members are given an opportunity to present their grievances during the hearing Monday of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, group members showed the destruction of their environment, roads, and the nickel contamination of rivers, farmlands, fishponds, creeks and part of the shoreline that affect 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 are operating in the areas in Santa Cruz and Candelaria despite irregularities in their permits.

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In the hearing, representatives of the four mining companies denied knowledge of the destructions caused by their alleged operations, and instead told the SP that they do only hauling operation which they do have permits.

They also denied having opened new extraction activities or expansions.

However, it was revealed that only BNMI has the ore transport permit while EMI, LAMI and ZDMC-DCMI are still waiting for their permits to haul.

With this, Zambales Vice Governor Angel Magsaysay warned the mining operators that the provincial government of Zambales has the primordial obligation to protect its citizens and its environment.

“Mining should not give destruction to the livelihood of the residents, they should be responsible for the environment and bring economic development, instead,” she said.

Zambales Governor Amor Deloso echoed Magsaysay’s statement as he reiterated his warning to penalize or cancel permit of those mining operators who are found violating what is stipulated in their permits.

“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 sponsors development projects for the community,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sangguniang Panlalawigan members expressed disappointment over the non-action and seeming blindness of the 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 would face the consequences for their actions.

SP members urged the CCOS to wait for the submission of the recommendations by the fact- finding committee composed of various government agencies tasked to conduct assessment on the effect of nickel mining here. (PNA)

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