Caritas Philippines criticized the government on Friday for lifting a moratorium on new mining agreements.
In a statement, the Catholic Church’s social action arm said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision will only favor business interests than the people. They added that the poor and marginalized communities will suffer greatly because of this.
“The government has again chosen vested interests and profit over our suffering people and ecology,” said Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines. (Read: 3 Ways Caritas PH Is Giving Support to Filipinos in Need)
New Mining Deals
On Wednesday, April 14, President Rodrigo Duterte allowed the government to enter into new mining deals to supposedly generate jobs and spur countryside growth.
The decision has put an end to the nine-year moratorium on new mining deals imposed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2012. (Read: Faith Group Applauds DOE, Calls for Just Transition to Renewable Energy)
Bagaforo, who is also the bishop of Kidapawan, urged Duterte to reconsider the decision. “We are in the countryside, and we are seeing no economic improvement in the lives of the people from mining,” he lamented.
Church Officials Step In
The same sentiments were expressed by Archbishop Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao. He said that the off-shore mining in Cagayan province, which was among the provinces that were badly hit by Typhoon Ulysses in 2020, is likely to bring more harm than good.
“The magnetite mining is projected to exacerbate flooding, and cause massive erosion in coastal and nearshore areas, which might again cause the loss of lives,” said Baccay, who leads Caritas Philippines’ Eco-Convergence Hub in Luzon.
Meanwhile, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos reiterated their stance against the proposed coal mining in Negros Occidental province. (Read: Caritas PH Demands Truth And Justice Amid Philhealth Corruption Mess)
“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,” said Alminaza, who leads the Eco-Convergence Hub in the Visayas.