Bicol church leaders call for mining moratorium

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Mining operation of ANTONES Enterprises, GLOBAL Summit Mines Development Corporation and TR Ore in Matnog, Sorsogon. PHOTO BY CHRISTINE AZUL-ESPENILLA
Mining operation of ANTONES Enterprises, GLOBAL Summit Mines Development Corporation and TR Ore in Matnog, Sorsogon. PHOTO BY CHRISTINE AZUL-ESPENILLA

LEGAZPI CITY (Oct. 06, 2011) – In light of the recent NPA guerrilla resistance to large-scale mining in Claver, Surigao del Norte, Roman Catholic and protestants bishops called for an immediate moratorium on large scale mining in the country and the scrapping of the government’s current mining policy. Leaders of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) issued a statement after their Southern Luzon Regional Conference in Legazpi City. Church leaders and workers along with mining-affected community representatives attended the said forum.

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said that mining in Bicol region have affected so many people like the polymetallic mining in Rapurapu island. “These mining operations have destroyed our rivers, seas and land. The flagship project of the government which is the Polymetallic mining in Rapurapu supposedly a model of responsible, clean mining but as expected from them we opened a pandora box of destruction. We will continue to oppose all destructive mining operations, both locally or foreign-owned. We call our brethrens to support the struggle of communities in their protection of their rights and environment against private and foreign mining corporations.”

PHOTO BY CHRISTINE AZUL-ESPENILLA

“Defend Patrimony commends EBF in putting forward the demands of the people on the issue of mining. The support of church leaders is very important in the continuing campaign against environmental destruction and mineral resource depletion brought about by large-scale mining,” said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan PNE and convenor of Defend Patrimony Alliance.

Bishop Deogracias Yniquez said “destructive mining is blatantly unethical, unjust, and senseless for it exacerbates poverty, causes dislocation of livelihood of the people, and even threatens the base of life and life itself. This is a result of mining liberalization of the government.”

The Ecumenical Bishops also call for the demilitarization of mining communities and the passing of House Bill 4315 or the People’s Mining Bill.

“The People’s Mining Bill provides a mining policy framework that ensures the protection not only of the environment but more importantly the people’s basic rights and welfare. Unlike the current mining policy, the said bill once enacted will lead to the resolution of mining conflicts in the mining-affected communities,” Bautista explained.

The EBF anti-mining statement was signed by Most Rev. Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., UCCP Bishop Elmer M. Bolocon, Albay Bishop Joel Z. Baylon, UCCP Bishop Arturo R. Asi, Sorsogon Bishop Arthuro Bastes, IFI BishopThe Right Revd. Ronelio V. Fabriquer, IFI Bishop The Right Revd. Joselito T. Cruz, and UCCP Bishop Gabriel A. Garol.

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