Priests, pastors rally vs mining in Panay, Guimaras
At least 100 priests, pastors and members of religious groups protested at the office of the government agency tasked with regulating mining to hold what they said was an exorcism of evil spirits that had occupied the agency.
“We hold this prayer service to expel the maligning forces affecting this office,” said Fr. Marco Sulayao, Visayas head of National Priest Organization of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
The protesters marched to the office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to protest mining in Panay and Guimaras Islands.
Among the protesters were priests and lay workers from the Catholic Church, Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, United Church of Christ in the Philippines and Promotion of Church People’s Response-Panay.
In a forum held at St. Clement’s Retreat House before the protest, church leaders called for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 7942) because of its adverse impact on communities near or on the site of mining operations.
“We have never stopped opposing the Mining Act because it continues to destroy the environment and livelihood especially of poor residents,” said Rev. Judson Herbilla.
“More and more of our parishioners have testified on the destructive effects of large-scale mining,” Sulayao said.
The church groups pushed for the enactment of House Bill No. 4315 (People’s Mining Bill) as an alternative to the Mining Act.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, in full page ads, said many opponents of mining are spreading false information about the industry.
In many sites, small-scale mining is being blamed for environmental destruction. Most cases of small-scale mining involve the use of heavy equipment commonly associated with large-scale operations.
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