PASTORAL STATEMENT ON THE OPERATION OF MINING IN MATNOG, SORSOGON
I can heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live. (Deut. 30:19)
Brothers and Sister in Christ:
We build our future on the toils of the present, bearing the lesson of the past. It is our duty to ensure the survival of our civilization. Our existence naturally depends on the graces and bounties of the fragile nature. We have the moral imperative to protect the environment.
Irresponsible mining destroys our lives and our community. Be it small-scale or large-scale operation, it is an affront to the integrity of creation.
The “small-scale mining” in Brgy. Balocawe, Matnog, Sorsogon, is essentially deceptive and destructive.
1. The People’s Small-scale Mining Act 1991, Section 3b states: “Small-scale mining refers to mining activities which rely heavily on manual labor using simple implement and methods and do not use explosives or heavy mining equipment”.
The Balocawe mining operation uses heavy machineries like hydraulics-powered trucks, backholes and machines. It is a large-scale mining operation that systematically extracts large volume of ores from the mineralized mountain.
2. The Brgy. Balocawe mining project is an open-pit mining operation. The entire mountain is flattened to mine the ores. The top soil is removed, trees are cut and siltation is an inevitable result of the loose top-soil that will cover the farm land and rice paddies. Under heavy rain, mudslide and flood are risk-points for the community.
3. Release of Acid Mine Drainage to open environment. Naturally consequential in mining to release the acid deposits from mined ores. This will pollute the body of waters especially the river basin and the sea. Heavy metals will go along with the drainage that will poison the people and the environment.
4. The recent study of the MGB pointed out the Matnog is part of the Geo-Hazard areas in the province of Sorsogon. Conducting mining in such areas will further endanger the community and their livelihood.
It has been proven that the costs of mining far outweighed its supposed benefits. The Rapu-Rapu mining project tells tales of environment of the local community are irreparable damage to the flora and fauna of the ounce beautiful island. Needless to say, the mining corporation or even the local government has failed to guarantee protection to the biodiversity of the island and safety to the community.
It will be great tragedy to repeat the same mistake in Matnog. So I implore your moral sensibilities to resist the continued mining operation in Brgy. Balocawe. Let us defend life. Let us choose life instead of death. Let this be our stand for our future.
Let this be our call:
1. Stop the mining operations in Brgy. Balocawe and other mining areas in the region and the country;
2. Conduct an impartial and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment of the mining operation in the municipality;
3. Cancellation of the permit to operate the Balocawe mining project and its ECC (Environmental Compliance Certificate).
4. Scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and Legislate the Alternate Mining Bill (AMB)
It is by defining our principles of the present that ensures life-giving future.
On the occasion of the 300 years of guidance and grace from our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Penafrancia, may our Lord Jesus Christ bless us who defends God’s creation.
(Signed) MOST REV. ARTURO M. BASTES, SVD, D.D.
BISHOP OF SORSOGON
September 28, 2010