Writ of kalikasan issued vs Zambales mine firm

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

THE Supreme Court (SC) issued Wednesday a writ of kalikasan enjoining a mining company in Zambales, the provincial police office and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) from cutting trees and leveling the mountain in Barangay Bolitoc, Sta. Cruz, Pampanga.

In a three-page resolution, the Court en banc granted the prayer in the petition filed by Agham party-list Representative Angelo Palmones seeking to stop metallic ore miner LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (Lami) from further defiling the environment, and for government agencies concerned to exert all efforts in protecting nature.

Named respondents in the suit were Lami president Lawrence Lenio and its general manager Philip Floria, Environment Secretary Jesus Paje, PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana, and Zambales Police Provincial Office Director Francisco Santiago Jr.


“Now, therefore, you, respondents, are hereby required to make a verified return of the writ of kalikasan within a non-extendible period of 10 days from receipt hereof as provided in Section 8 of Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases,” the SC ruling, signed by clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal, stated.

With the issuance of the writ, the SC referred the case to the Court of Appeals for acceptance of the return of the writ and for hearing, reception of evidence and rendition of judgment.

In his petition, Palmones said that in April this year, Lami's personnel – accompanied by security details armed with high-powered guns – started to cut mountain trees, which serves as the natural barrier of the nearby communities from typhoons and floods.

The local police, through Santiago, meanwhile, “covered up the illegal activities of Lami by issuing the Special Report falsely stating that there was no leveling of mountain despite the undisputed physical evidence on site.”

Palmones also claimed that the Permit to Construct and the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the PPA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), respectively, did not authorize Lami to cut the trees and level the mountain for its port construction in the area.

He said the ECC clearly states that it is only a “planning tool and not a permit” and requires Lami to “diligently secure pertinent permit/clearances from all concerned government agencies.”

Thus, the tree-cutting and earth-hauling were “unnecessary to the development of port and related facilities, and surely, no government agency will allow or authorize the flattening of a mountain, which is illegal per se,” Palmones said.

The lawmaker added that in destroying the nearby communities' barrier against typhoons and floods, the mining firm also violated the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which states that a “contractor shall assist in the development of its mining community, the promotion of the general welfare of its inhabitants.”

Residents were also not consulted before the mining firm started its operations, despite the plea they filed in March before the barangay authorities that they want the area to be preserved and protected.

In his petition, Palmones also asked the SC to direct the DENR and PPA to produce all the pertinent documents related to Lami’s port construction in the area, and for the Zambales police “to maintain, without siding with any party, the peace and order in Bolitoc, Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and not to cover up illegal activities in the area.” (JCV/Sunnex)

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