Green groups storm DMCI office, demand closure of its Zambales nickel mine

March 3, 2016

By Kalikasan PNE

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MAKATI City—Today on the 21st Anniversary of Philippine Mining Act of 1995, environmental advocates from Metro Manila, Zambales and Batangas amassed outside the office of the DM Consunji (DMCI) company. The protesters aired their demands for the stoppage of the destructive mining and pollutive power projects of DMCI.

“DMCI operates several mining, power, and logging operations across the country, most having long records of forest denudation, water pollution, community displacement, and human rights violations. They are a clear example of the irresponsible brand of mining promoted by the current Mining Act. The Aquino government should suspend the DMCI’s operations, especially their mines in Zambales, Palawan and Antique,” said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

DMCI’s nickel mines in Zambales and Palawan, and its coal mine in Semirara have been suspended repeatedly due to environmental violations over the past years. In July 2015, 9 mine workers were killed when part of DMCI Semirara coal mine collapsed. Just last month, communities in Sta. Cruz, Zambales have put up barricades to stop DMCI’s Zambales mine operations. Scores of barricading residents have been arrested and slapped with mining obstruction charges by DMCI.

DMCI’s Berong Mine in Palawan, meanwhile, also has a record of environmental violations. It was fined Php120 million by the Palawan Provincial Mining Regulatory Board in March 2015 for illegal road construction and river destruction.

“Our homes and farm lands are buried because of the flash-floods aggravated by nickel mining. Mine wastes and chemicals have polluted the rivers and the sea in Sta. Cruz. Our children and elders are suffering from hunger and ailments. When we responded with protests well within our rights, the police harassed us and impeded us with legal cases. The government should be protecting us, not these pollutive mining companies,” said Allan de los Santos, a resident of Bgy Bayto, Sta. Cruz, Zambales.

Petti Enriquez, secretary-general of the Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan sa Batangas (Bukal Batangas) said that “DMCI, which owns the oldest coal power plant in the country, have also caused pollution in the province of Batangas. The Calaca power plant uses the dirty coal that comes from Semirara. The plant has caused massive water and air pollution in its surrounding communities.”

“There is scientific evidence that the plant has been emitting harmful and toxic materials in the air and water bodies for several decades. Studies have also shown that these pollutants have caused negative health impacts, especially among young children. Cases of birth defects and diseases like cancer are alarmingly increasing in number. Batanguenos have long been calling for the shutdown of the coal power plant,” Enriquez further explained.

The protesters hit the human-size poster of DMCI Chairman Isidro Consunji with hammers, to dramatize their anger and disgust over the company’s violations.

The green groups also challenged the incumbent administration and the current crop of electoral aspirants to start working towards the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and the passage of the People’s Mining Bill (currently House Bill 171) in Congress.

“Shameless environmental criminals like DMCI remain unpunished or lightly penalized for their violations under the Mining Act. We should radically change our mining law and enact a new one. A mining law that will ensure erring mining companies like DMCI will be held accountable for their violations and will be barred to continue operating in the country,” Bautista said.

The protest at DMCI is part of the Green Flag Day activities of the Kalikasan PNE, a campaign that aims to highlight mining issues and people’s struggles on the 21st Anniversary of Mining Act of 1995. Other mobilizations and activities were also simultaneously held in the provinces of Zambales, Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, and Davao City. ###

Reference: Clemente Bautista – 0905 432 5211