Despite kalikasan writ, work continues at Zambales minesPhilippine Daily Inquirer
OLONGAPO CITY—A Chinese mining company, which obtained government clearance to cut trees and level a hill to build a seaport in a Zambales town, has not stopped its operations despite a writ of kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court, according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials.
Lawyer Danilo Uykieng, Central Luzon director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), said LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (Lami) has not been prohibited from operating because the writ covers only its seaport construction project, and not its mining operations.
“[Lami’s] mining operations in the MPSA (mineral production sharing agreement) area … [are] not covered by the writ of kalikasan … [but the] development in their port facility is stopped for now,” Uykieng said on Friday.
The Supreme Court issued the writ on June 13 to give due course to the complaint filed by Agham Party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones against Environment Secretary Ramon Paje Jr., Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Juan Sta. Ana, and Lami executives Lawrence Lenio and Philip Floria.
Palmones complained that Lami’s activities have been destroying the natural barriers of Sta. Cruz town in Zambales from typhoons and floods. He also argued that residents there were not consulted before the firm started leveling the hill.
Nelson Castro, Zambales provincial environment and natural resources officer (Penro), said Lami was issued permits by the community environment and natural resources officer Pablito Opresia, as well as by the village chair, to build the company’s seaport in Barangay Bolitoc in Sta. Cruz.
He said that Lami had a valid foreshore lease agreement and an environment compliance certificate from the DENR, allowing them to operate in the area.
Castro said the seaport would rise in a private land administered by Lami.
“In my opinion, there was nothing [illegal in Lami’s operations] because they have the permits. That’s what I think, based on the Cenro reports, but of course [other people may think otherwise],” he said.
Uykieng said the MGB has no power to address the offenses enumerated by Palmones because “Lami’s operations [that were frozen by the writ] are not mining [activities].”
“The mining area [which is overseen by MGB] is 25 kilometers away from the subject [of the writ],” he added.
An MGB technical team, accompanied by another team from the Environmental Management Bureau, inspected the Lami port area on Thursday.
Uykieng cited a potential issue that could be used to challenge the writ.
“There is a condition attached to the issuance of the writ, [which is that impact of environmental damage must cover] two provinces, or two cities. In this case, I think it was only Bolitoc in Sta. Cruz, which is the direct complainant, and no other town or province as required by the courts],” he said. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon