THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte may not be seeing eye-to-eye on the proposed reimposition of death penalty but the bishops expressed solidarity with Duterte’s tough stand against destructive mining.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has expressed confidence that the Duterte administration would heed the long standing-call by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for the repeal of the existing law on mining, which the Church claimed promotes the plunder of the country’s natural resources for the benefit of investors and mining firms.
“I know he means it… and [the incoming President knows]the Mindanao experience,” said Arguelles, who is leading a fight against destructive mining and coal plant operations in his archdiocese, over the weekend.
Duterte will cease to be mayor of the southern Mindanao city of Davao on June 30 when he takes his oath of office as President of the Philippines.
He has led the city for more than two decades.
Arguelles brought to the attention of the incoming President planned mining operations in Lobo, Batangas, which, he said, would destroy the Verde Island Passage, dubbed as the world’s “center of the center of marine biodiversity.”
Duterte earlier issued a stern warning against big mining companies to stop their destructive mining operations, particularly in Mindanao, where 25 out of 44 large-scale mining operations can be found.
In two instances, the CBCP has published statements against mining.
In 1995, the bishops sought repeal of Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act, citing devastating effects and adverse social impacts of mining.
Then in 2006, the CBCP reaffirmed its stand for the repeal of RA 7942.
It stated that “allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people’s right to these resources amount[s]to violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people’s health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas.”
Duterte also got the support of of Alyansa Tigal Mina (ATM), a coalition of mining-affected communities and their support groups collectively confronting “destructive” large-scale mining in the Philippines.
ATM believes that the incoming President is aware of the “plunder” of the environment and mostly foreign-owned mining firms “making huge profits from the country’s natural resources at the expense of the communities.”
The group urged Duterte to act on these concerns and investigate further, specifically, by ordering a moratorium on all mining operations and an evaluation of project contracts and operations.
“We urge President-elect Duterte to exercise his power to immediately suspend or cancel any mining contract that has violated our laws or abused the human rights of mining-affected communities,” it said.
ATM chairman Fr. Edwin Gariguez of Caritas Philippines, at the same time, called on Duterte to certify as urgent the proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMBB), which pushes for a sustainable, rational, needs-based minerals management geared toward effective utilization of mineral resources.
“It would be consistent with his stand against the current state of mining that Duterte certifies the proposed alternative mining bill as urgent,” ATM said.