CA junks Zambales folk's appeal vs mining operations.
By Rey G. Panaligan
The Court of Appeals (CA) stood pat on its 2017 decision that denied the petition by residents of Sta. Cruz, Zambales for the issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan with permanent environment protection order (PEPO) against all mining operations in the province.
In a resolution written by Associate Justice Renato Francisco, the CA ruled that the petitioner, Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz in Zambales, failed to present new arguments that would warrant the reversal of its May 22, 2017 decision.
In its decision, the CA ruled that the closure order issued by then Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez against the operations of the five mining companies in Zambales had rendered the petition moot and academic.
The five mining firms named in the petition were Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines, Inc., Eramen Minerals, Inc., LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. and Shangfil Mining and Trading Corp.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Office of the Solicitior General (OSG) moved for the dismissal of the petition as it invoked the Joint Suspension Order dated July, 2016 issued by the DENR, and Environmental Management Bureau Region 3, which immediately suspended the mining operations of all respondent mining companies, thus, the application for temporary environment protection order (TEPO) has been rendered moot and academic.
The CA said in its decision that "with the closure of the mining operations, there can be no unlawful act or omission that may be committed by respondent mining companies that would result in actual or threatened violation of petitioner's constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology."
"More importantly, the principal relief sought in this petition has already been accomplished, thereby rendering the controversy moot and academic. There, thus, no more actual controversy between parties and no useful purpose can be served in passing upon the merits of this petition," it added.
The CA pointed out that with regard to the petitioner's allegation of violation of the DENR closure orders, the matter can be brought before the DENR, which has primary jurisdiction for the full enforcement of environmental standards in mining.