Caritas Philippines has urged President Duterte to reconsider the lifting of the mining moratorium.
“The Catholic Church, through Caritas Philippines, the Eco-Convergence and the CBCP National Laudato Si Program strongly enjoin President Duterte to reconsider the lifting of the mining moratorium,” Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Caritas Philippines national director said, in a statement on Friday, April 16.
He added that such action which is a “sign of desperation to solve the ginormous economic gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” is unsustainable destructive and extremely detrimental to the Filipino communities in the peripheries and the Philippine ecology.
Caritas Philippines with the lead dioceses of the Eco-Convergence hubs in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and the conveners of the CBCP National Laudato Si Program said they were dismayed over the lifting of the nine year mining moratorium.
Executive Order 130 amended EO 79 issued in 2012 which suspended applications for mineral extractions in protected areas, prime agricultural lands, tourism development areas, and other critical ecosystems.
Stating that the country has just tapped 5% of its mineral reserve, the order added that “in addition to ushering significant economic benefits to the country, the mining industry can support various government infrastructure projects, and increase employment opportunities in remote rural areas to countryside development.”
However, Bishop Bagaforo said: “We are in the countryside and we are seeing no economic improvement in the lives of the people from mining. The government has again chosen vested interests and profit over our suffering people and ecology.”
He added, “take for example what happened in Marinduque and Albay. The mining companies are gone but the ill-effects to the local ecosystems still threaten communities who gained nothing from the operations”
Bishop Allan Casicas of the Diocese of Marbel and lead of the Eco-Convergence Hub down south said while the Tampakan mines in South Cotabato can potentially generate at least 8 billion USD in export earnings with two other mining operations in Mindanao, it will also exponentially destroy the Mindanao River Basin which will severely affect nine provinces equivalent to more than 3.5 million population.
Archbishop Ricardo Baccay of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao and lead of the Eco-Convergence Hub in Luzon said the same is true if the off-shore mining in Cagayan will be fully operational.
He said the magnetite mining is projected to exacerbate flooding, and cause massive erosion in coastal and near shore areas which might again cause the loss of lives.
Thus Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos and lead of Eco-Convergence Hub in Visayas reiterates their strong position against the proposed coal mining in the province of Negros Occidental.
“We challenge our government officials, to restore the dignity of your office by siding with our people and the ecology. Let your legacy be in the defense of ecology and justice,” he added.