MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Fr Shay Cullen Writes On The Deportation Of Fr Frank Nally

Published by MAC on 2007-01-25

Fr Shay Cullen writes on the deportation of Fr Frank Nally

25th January 2007

Letter from Fr. Shay Cullen - reproduced in

MANILA - The deportation and blacklisting of Columban Father Frank Nally, 52, at the Manila Airport last January 5 was unnecessary. Father Frank is no threat to the Philippine people, or their national security or the government but is a threat to the forces of darkness and corruption that exploit and oppress the rights of the poor and indigenous people.

He is a friend and supporter of Filipinos and a defender of their rights and dignity. He is an advocate for justice and peace calling for an end to assassinations and evil. The only people to gain from preventing him from entering the Philippines where he served as a dedicated missionary for eight years are those who sleep with the devil. Consider how paedophiles and child rapists are protected by powerful officials and even when ordered to be deported by the Commissioner on Immigration they still can stay to abuse children.

The immigration officials were only acting on orders from powerful people at the top. Those that prosper by allowing the international and local mining corporations to pollute and pillage the land of the indigenous people. It only takes a few greedy people to cause so much injustice and poverty. Bringing these realities to public light and advocating positive alternatives to save the people and their environment is part of the mission of Father Frank Nally we must all support these life giving efforts.

Fr Frank was here to prepare for the launch of an important report on these problems and to promote what is good and right. Good and ethical mining practices are those that respect the rights of the indigenous people to their ancestral lands and a participation in responsible mining that will benefit the majority of poor people and protect the environment. The people, not the politicians ought to get a fair share of the wealth generated. But when the people are robbed, driven off the land and exploited by large scale mining operations backed up by police and military then this has to be exposed, criticized and stopped and good practices planned and implemented with the people's participation.

The special report is being launched today at University of St Tomas (UST) in Manila and in the Jubilee Room at the House of Commons in London the same day. The research contained in the report was done at the request and with the support of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Thousands have died in recent years from the environmental destruction caused by mining disasters, logging and toxic pollution. The forest degradation reduces to poverty a once self-reliant and proud people. Rare animal species are also one step from extinction as a result and more carbon dioxide is pouring into the atmosphere.

The massive money from mining propels the politician's re-election and the cycle repeats itself. Some say there is no hope and the good Filipinos are condemned by the curse of this corrupt political self-perpetuating system. That is not necessarily true. Even corrupt and sinful systems can be redeemed. When enough people are empowered and committed to non-violent people power, imbued with moral authority and a spiritual commitment to truth and justice, then they can overcome evil regimes even if they kill torture and maim. Blood baths, massacres, wars, invasions and insurrections are not the way to a just society.

Even though the Philippine constitution explicitly forbids outright foreign ownership of land and property a 1995 law granted foreign and local mining companies ownership of the land and the mineral wealth beneath it. This was passed by a congress made up of the ruling elite to benefit themselves and the multinational mining corporations. After public outrage and a massive people power campaign, the supreme court ruled that the law was unconstitutional. But then in 2005 inexplicably the Supreme Court reversed itself and said the 1995 law was constitutional after all. In 2006 at a private mining investors meeting in London between Philippine political leaders and business tycoons, the politicians boasted how they had pressured the Supreme Court to reverse its own ruling. ´We did it, they triumphantly said, we did it¡. The discussion at that private meeting was recorded and later leaked on the internet. The upcoming report will help reveal the truth and give positive recommendations that politicians would be wise to adopt.

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