MANILA – Environmental groups, along with mining-affected communities from Zambales and Sultan Kudarat, are calling for the closure of mining and logging operations of DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI), which they had called “grossly irresponsible.”
Peasants, indigenous peoples and youths joined the protest at the DMCI central office in Makati City on July 26, led by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Lumad group Kahugpungan sa mga Lumad pa Halayong Habagatang Mindanao (Kaluhhamin), Diocese of Iba Advocacy Desk (Diad), Sagip-Move Now Zambales, and the Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Kalikasan (SKPK).
“DMCI is a repeated offender of environmental and human rights laws and regulations and deserved more than the suspension that Environment Secretary Gina Lopez slapped on its Acoje mine in Zambales. Such a grossly irresponsible track record warrants all its mining applications, exploration sites, mine developments, and commercial operations to be permanently closed,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
The mining operations DMCI subsidiary Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC) is one of the four mining companies in Zambales whose operations have been suspended. Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the suspension of ZDMC, along with the BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc. on July 8. Two other companies, LNL Archiperalo Minerals Inc. and Eramen Minerals Inc. have been suspended since 2014.
Environmental groups have blamed DMCI for serious environmental crimes and human rights violations, including the enforced disappearance of John Calaba, the public information officer of their Dulangan indigenous people’s organization Kiduma.
“DMCI should not only be permanently closed, but should be compelled by the DENR to provide just reparations to all aggravated communities affected by its environmental destruction and militarization. DMCI should be prevented from ever getting into the business of mining as it has demonstrated its inability to uphold the strictest standards and regulations and to respect human rights,” Dulce said.
On July 5, ZDMC guards reportedly fired at protesting residents of sitio (subvillage) Acoje, Lucapon village in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, who had barred the entry of the company’s hauling trucks into their watershed.
Kalikasan PNE had called DMCI “a clear example of the brand of irresponsible mining” under the Mining Act of 1995.
“The reason we get repeated offenders like DMCI is because we have lenient regulations that make it easy for companies to return to business as usual, without effectively addressing its atrocities to the people and the environment,” Dulce said.
The groups said they will enjoin the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in opposing DMCI’s destructive projects and “in ensuring the respect of people’s rights and the environment.”
Text by Dee Ayroso
Photos by Carlo Manalansan