Two resolutions supporting the campaign against mining were unanimously approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) of the province of Zambales, Philippines during their regular session today.
The first resolution was sponsored by Board Member (BM) Sancho Abasta Jr, the head of the provincial board’s committee on health. After he witnessed the presentation of Ms. Josephine Astadan of the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS) wherein she showed the various ill effects of mining from health to livelihood and the environment and hearing the testimony of Mr. Ed Morano of Sitio Pao, Bgy. Guisguis, BM Abasta was convinced that the operations of the mining companies have caused miseries to the people and environmental destruction. Thus, he emphatically proposed the cancellation of the licenses of the mining companies operating in the town of Sta. Cruz. This was seconded by BMs Porfirio Elamparo, Eric Ebarle and Conrado Fallorin. BM Wilfredo Pangan although with doubt if cancellation could materialize soon given the fact that it took them four months to have the permit of a small scale mining company cancelled, did not object. The resolution was unanimously approved by all the board members and vice-governor Ramon Lacbain.
The second resolution sponsored by BM Pangan was on directing the Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) of Zambales to investigate the complaints of the CCOS and the various people affected by the ongoing mining operations. This resolution directing the ENRO to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation on the complaints of the CCOS and other affected people shall be forwarded to the ENRO within three days. This resolution was also unanimously approved.
After the session, BM Ebarle extended his appreciation on the participation of the CCOS. He offered lunch to all the attendees. BM Elamparo made sure that they will not go hungry on their way back home.
Mr. Ed Morano said, “It is a small victory, I hope the recommendation of the provincial board on the cancellation of mining permits will not be ignored by the DENR.”
Ms. Astadan was in disbelief. For her the resolution calling for cancellation is adventurous. She prefers suspension of operation during the process of investigation.
Mr. Ronald Seňa, the Co-Chairperson of the CCOS have doubts, “We did not expect that the provincial board will recommend outright the cancellation of mining permits, in an earlier complaint done by another group, they walked out. We were surprised, but we are not totally happy." He added, "Election time is coming, so they might be taking us for a ride. We do hope that their recommendations will materialize.”
Ms. Josephine Ignacio who represented Defend Zambales in the hearing and who is vying for a seat in the municipal board of Sta. Cruz in the coming election wanted to make sure that the people will win, she said, “We have to continue our struggle against mining.”