Peoples of Sta. Cruz Held Rally Against Mining
More than five hundred peoples of Sta. Cruz, Zambales from all walks of life gathered in their town plaza to call on their local officials to save their lives by ending all operations of mining companies in their municipalities on 29 August 2013 while more than a thousand citizens within and outside of the country supported the protest action by wearing green or by having a green ribbon profile of their FB accounts.
The rally organized and led by the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS), a non-government organization called on their local and national officials to stop mining immediately before another strong rain will hit their town. Two weeks ago, typhoon Labuyo internationally named Utor, hit the northern regions of the Philippines pouring heavy rain that flooded several towns and provinces, including several towns in Northern Zambales, especially the towns of Sta. Cruz and Masinloc which were later placed under state of calamity.
The flood water that submerged almost the whole town of Sta. Cruz was red and muddy. The people said that this was clearly due to the heavily mined mountains where the national government allowed at least four mining companies to haul down 8.5 million metric tons of nickel annually. The people further said that this is the first time that a deluge happened in their communities, especially in interior barangays just below the mined mountains. Luckily it happened during daytime. Last year, the peoples of these interior barangays of Sta. Cruz already voiced out their fear of their lives because all the waterways in their communities are heavily silted and their farms are inundated too by laterites, tailings and mud from the mountains bulldozed by the mining companies. They expect that a heavy rain will submerge their community as all the waterways are heavily silted. The flooding of red and muddy water happened more than two weeks ago. It also happened in all adjacent villages including the town proper.
Angered by the deluge and pushed by the fear of their lives, the people called on the government to stop the mining operations in their town immediately. They also asked the government to: rehabilitate all the silted waterways and destroyed roads; ensure that the mining companies will rehabilitate and/or built dams that will surely prevent the flow of mud, tailings and laterites to the low lying communities; obliged the mining companies to compensate the destroyed environment, especially farms and fishponds; pass local ordinance or resolutions banning mining in the town of Sta. Cruz and push for the enactment of a new mining law, the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
Mayor Connie Marty when asked about her response to the people’s call to stop the mining operations, she said, “We can’t blame it (deluge) all to mining, there are also houses blocking the free flow of water from the mountains.” The permits to construct these houses were issued earlier by his husband. The husband–wife team has been in power in the last 21 years and probably more.
She also said that she is with the people in their protest, the very same line of her husband when he was still the mayor. But the spokesperson of the CCOS, Ms. Josephine Astadan said, "There was no concrete action to prove that they are with the people in the fight against mining. They are even unaware of the destructions of the environment and the farms in the interior barangays.", she added.
To strengthen their voice, the group launched a massive petition signing calling on their government officials to heed their demands. They also freed more than a hundred green ballons with their demands written on the baloons. They hope that hese baloons will reach the hands of their local officials.
The CCOS and the participants vowed to hold another rally if the government fails to respond to their demands.