MANILA (17-April-2012) – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) had expressed its support to the initiatives and campaign of Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, against mining operations in the Bicol region.
In a statement, Manila Auxiliary Bishop and NASSA chair Broderick S. Pabillo said, since 1988, the CBCP has been raising concern over attacks on the natural world, the rapid expansion of mining operations, and the continuing enforcement of an oppressive law that is blighting our ecology, as written in “What is Happening to our Beautiful Land” (a Pastoral Letter on Ecology), in the Statement of Concern on the Mining Act of 1995, and in Nature is groaning: A statement on the Revitalization of mining in the Philippines issued on March 2005, respectively.
“In January 2006, the CBCP re-affirmed its stand to repeal of Mining Act of 1995, stating that allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people’s rights to resources corresponds to violating right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people’s health and environmental safety through dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas… [However], it is disappointing that more than 20 years later, the threat of mining continues, as in the case of Bicol,” the prelate said.
Pabillo had revealed that under the Public-Private Partnership Program, Bicol is part of the Top Priority Mining Projects under its Mining Revitalization Program and National Mining Policy, and has five out of 24 priority mining projects – the Korean/ Malaysian-owned Rapu-Rapu Ploymetallic Project in Rapu-Rapu, Albay; the Australian/ Canadian-owned Masbate Gold Project in Aroroy, Masbate; the Australian-owned Nelasbitan Gold Project in Labo, Camarines Norte; the Philippine US-owned Del Gallego Gold Project in Camarines Norte; and the Korean Malaysian-owned Hixbar Copper-Gold Project in Rapu-Rapu.
“The top 2 mining projects in Rapu-Rapu and Masbate have been declared Patented Mining Claims, which give the foreign Transnational Mining Corporation the right and privilege to use public lands and to extract their own mineral ore. And according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), 1.3 million hectares or 74.62% of the total land area in the region have been approved for mining operations,” Pabillo said.
“Bishop Bastes reiterates that the negative effects of mining far outweigh its supposed gains, as proven in many regions and countries. Mining operations continues to bring irreplaceable damage to the environment, economic dislocation and catastrophe, as well as health impacts to the people of Bicol. In addition, the island topography in the region proves that it is impossible for mining to be sustainable and responsible in the region: it has Typhoon II classification according to PAG-ASA, and has massive iron sulfide rock formation in the geo-chemical composition,” he added.
He also said that we are being reminded that we, people, are “only Stewards of God’s creation” and that we “are invited to put an end to injustice and embrace God as the Lord of all.”
Because of this, Pabillo said, his office reiterates its position for the protection and respect of the environment and repeal of the Mining Act 1995. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]