2 bishops express alarm over gov’t mining plan | Inquirer News
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2 bishops express alarm over gov’t mining plan

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 05:56 AM September 15, 2011

Two Catholic bishops on Wednesday expressed alarm over plans of the government to take over old mining sites in the country, saying that such a move would lead to further destruction of the environment and livelihood of fishermen.

“Mining will destroy our country and again, for faulty gain,” Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said over Church-run Radio Veritas.

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Bastes said the Ecumenical Bishops Forum, a group of Roman Catholic and Protestant prelates, would hold a special round-table discussion next month to tackle the dangers of mining.

The three-day forum, scheduled to start on Oct. 4, will look into problems brought about by excessive mining operations in southern Luzon, including the Bicol region, Bastes said.

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He also called attention to the mining venture in Matnog, Sorsogon province, by Chinese firms, which he claimed to have turned from a small-scale to a large-scale operation.

“It was supposed to be a small-scale mining … Now, it’s large-scale mining and they are transporting the soil of Matnog to China,” he said.

He noted that Matnog’s soil was rich in a “rare earth element” used for making computer chips.

“This is the result of the private-public partnership [program] of President Aquino … the result of this is the destruction of our environment,” he added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday said that it had endorsed to President Aquino a proposal to declare old and closed mine sites in the country as state assets.

DENR officials said the government must take advantage of the soaring gold prices to earn more revenues.

Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo said the government’s perspective on mining appeared to have “fundamental flaws” because it was focusing more on the general interest of businessmen “at the cost of the welfare of the people.”

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The unabated mining in Palawan, for instance, has put fishermen and farmers out of business because it has greatly disturbed and damaged the province’s natural resources, Arigo said over Radio Veritas.

Arigo said the mining sector was always talking about responsible mining but it was absent particularly in Palawan province.

“There’s no responsible mining here in Palawan … all extractive mining activities here are destructive to nature and to the livelihood of the residents,” said the bishop.

Palawan residents have gathered 10 million signatures to protect the province—known for its pristine beaches and rich marine life—but the government has paid no attention to the campaign against mining, Arigo said.

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TAGS: Catholic bishops, government takeover, livelihood of fishermen, old mining sites, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, the Ecumenical Bishops Forum
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