ZAMBALES, Philippines – Residents of Sta Cruz town barricaded the highway Wednesday, January 20, to prevent dump trucks of a mining firm from hauling nickel to their port, according to an official of the Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz (CCOS).
Haulers of Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation (ZDMC), one of the 4 mining companies operating in the town, were not allowed to pass through by the residents led by two barangay councilmen from Barangay Bayto.
The village was said to be the most affected when mud floods and logs flowed down from the mountains and hit the town of Sta Cruz after Typhoon Lando struck in October 2015, said CCOS chair Benito Molino.
CCOS advocates an end to the alleged destructive operations of mining companies here.
Molino described the barricade as their way of defending their rights – the right to live, right of the next generation, right to livelihood, and the right to a healthy and balanced ecology.
“After Typhoon Lando struck in October last year, the whole town of Sta Cruz, Barangay Bayto in particular, was flooded with reddish mud and water that rose very high and destroyed homes," Molino said in Filipino.
The flooding also killed some people and animals within the town.
The residents of Bayto blamed the cause of the mud flooding on the mining operations. They said it angered them when they heard that Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr said mining had nothing to do with the mud floods that covered Sta Cruz.
“Because of these, Bayto has the most number of people who joined the anti-mining rally after the typhoon,” Molino said.
He added that the residents were further angered after town mayor Consolacion Marty and officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources cleared the mining companies of responsibilities for the mud flood and logs that hit Sta Cruz, Candelaria, and even Infanta town in Pangasinan.
Molino said Bayto town elders experienced no mud flooding or logs carried by floods from the mountains when there were still no mining operations in the town.
He said the destruction and damage done by the typhoon on the barangay, the death of two of its residents, and the fear of these calamities caused by destructive mining awakened the people of Bayto, who are now calling for an end to mining in Sta Cruz.
Molino added that the CCOS wants to make the mining firms responsible for the death of two of its barangay residents pay. They also call for punishment for local leaders who protect the mining firms and mislead the people of Sta Cruz. – Rappler.com