Green groups, Catholic bishops appeal to Pope Francis to stand vs large-scale mining

The following appeal was signed by 23 environmental groups and four Catholic bishops asking Pope Francis to intervene on the ecological destruction and human rights violations resulting from large-scale mining in the country.

Most Holy Father,

We, the undersigned environmental advocates, grassroots leaders, and faithful servants, urgently write to Your Holiness to underscore our concern against large-scale mining owned by multinational and transnational corporations.

These projects are being done in cooperation with government officials and local big businessmen. There are 46 different large-scale metallic mine projects across the Philippines, with thousands more approved or operating metallic and non-metallic mine projects and mineral applications covering over a million hectares of mineralized areas.

Since the ratification of the Mining Act of 1995 opened up our nation’s lands to foreign largescale
mining, poor farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous people and workers living in mine-affected areas have suffered from its destructive impacts. The current administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III further aggravated this policy with Executive Order 79, which, among other impositions, overrides local policy opposition to big mining operations.

In the past two decades, massive mine spills have caused the biological death of river and marine ecosystems, poisoned agricultural lands and fisheries, and displaced thousands of communities. Mining operations and their ‘investment defense forces’—paramilitary and military forces guarding mines, some of which are in the companies’ payroll—have caused widespread land-grabs, militarization, and human rights violations in the countryside.

The Church has always been concerned about the integrity of God’s creation and large-scale mining is an “attack being made on the natural world” that is “endangering its fruitfulness for future generations.” *

In this regard, we would like to appeal to Your Holiness for your prayers and your intervention. We humbly appeal for your solidarity with the countless poor victimized by big mining, by giving voice to their cries for the stoppage of plunder by large-scale mining and pull out of their military and paramilitary forces from the affected communities.

As a step towards this, we beseech His Holiness to rethink the investments of the Roman Catholic Church in giant mining companies, and, in line with your righteous call to invest in sustainable industries and the genuine development and welfare of your poor children.

We pray for your Your Holiness’ support to this request of your most obedient and humble servants.

1 ‘Pastoral Letter on Ecology’ Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (1988)

Clemente Bautista
National Coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

Frances Quimpo
Executive Director, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines

Dr. Giovanni Tapang
Chairperson, AGHAM-Advocates of Science & Technology for the People

Piya Macliing Malayao
National Coordinator, KAMP (Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas)/
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines

Kakay Tolentino
National Coordinator, BAI Indigenous Women’s Network

Rep. Fernando Hicap
National Chairman, PAMALAKAYA
Anakpawis Representative

Mr. Windel Bolinget
Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance

Dr. Jean Lindo
Co-Chair, Panalipdan Mindanao

Kim Ajeas Gargar
Spokesperson, Panalipdan Southern Mindanao

Carlos Trangia
Spokesperson, Barug Katawhan

Marvin Doods de Castro
Coordinator, Panalipdan Youth Southern Mindanao

Dr. Ruth Gamboa
Chairperson, AGHAM-SMR

Most Rev. Arturo M. Bastes
Bishop or Sorsogon

Most Rev. Deogracias Yniquez Jr.
Former Bishop of Caloocan

Most Rev. Crispin Varquez
Bishop of Eastern Samar

Most Rev. Pedro Arigo
Palawan Bishop

Arsen D. Sumeg-ang
MJ (Missionary of Jesus)

Pablo Bello Jr.
Chairperson, Sulong Tiblawan Para sa Kalikasan (Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental)

Fr. Oliver Castor
Chairperson, Bukal Batangas Sr. Cecille Ido, OSB
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation-Missionary Benedictine Sisters (JPIC-MBS)

Patrick Torres
Executive Director, Central Visayas Farmers Development Center, Inc (FARDEC)

Elizabeth E. Manggol
Executive Secretary, Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC)

Erenio Bobolla
Leader, Didipio Landowners Association

Villardo Abueme
President, Homonhon Environment Rescuers Organization (HERO)

Nonilon Sidney A. Abao
Chairperson, Minggan – UP Diliman

Bianca Victoria Aljibe
Chairperson, Minggan – UP Manila

Gil Dominic Catalan
Chairperson, UP Saribuhay

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