MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Bishop, priest sued for after exposing transnational mining practices

Published by MAC on 2006-11-28

Bishop, priest sued for after exposing transnational mining practices

28th November 2006

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=22142

MANILA, Philippines (Catholic Online) - Philippine Catholic bishops and clergy denounced the filing of a string of defamation suits by a Canadian mining company against a bishop and a priest, saying that such action is meant to maliciously muzzle the exposes of environment advocates.

The prelates and priests of the Archdiocese of Ozamis criticized criminal libel charges against Dipolog Bishop Jose Maguiran and Father Albert Bael after exposing alleged anomalies and irregularities committed by the TVI Resource Development Philippines.

The archdiocese covers the suffragan dioceses of Dipolog, Pagadian and Iligan and the Prelature of Marawi (DOPIM) located in the northwest and central part of Mindanao.

Supporters of the defendants charge that the complaint is the beginning of an orchestrated effort to harass and intimidate opposition to mining operations.

As a result of the libel suit, the DOPIM bishops and priests released a statement of support for those charged, whom they described as "defenders of the environment and rights of the oppressed."

Also charged for libel were some lay workers of the DOPIM Committee on Mining Issues.

"This situation is not far from the experiences of our fellow countrymen who are subjected to different harassments just to silence them while advancing their aggressive, destructive and exploitative mining operation of transnational companies," the statement read.

"We condemn the curtailment of freedom to express what we believe to be the truth," the statement said.

They also called on Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to "listen to the cries" of the marginalized and to "stop curtailments" of the rights of the people to speak for the truth.

Many of our people would come to us instead, they said, to seek redress for their grievances as a result of the destructive effects of the mining activities operating in their localities.

"In coming to their aid, we brought their grievances to the limelight of public opinion and for this we are accused to have spread lies to the public," the statement said.

TVI is currently operating a gold mine inside a 500-hectare area in Canatuan Mountain in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte province.

The company is also set to expand its current operation in the southern Philippines and has begun exploration projects in Bayog town, in Zamboanga del Sur.

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