MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Pastoral letter to voters issued by 7 prelates

Published by MAC on 2007-05-09

Pastoral letter to voters issued by 7 prelates

By ELLALYN B. DE VERA, http://www.mb.com.ph/MAIN2007050993535.html

9th May 2007

Seven Catholic bishops are calling on Filipino voters to vote for candidates who are "pro-people and pro-environment."

In a pastoral statement, the bishops said it is their responsibility "to scrutinize the track record of every candidate with regard to their stand on logging, mining, and other ecological concerns, including the advocacy for the rights of the indigenous peoples."

The pastoral statement was signed by Bishops Deogracias Yñiguez Jr., Caloocan; Jose Manguiran, Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte; Nereo Odchimar, Tandag, Surigao del Sur; Dinualdo Gutierrez, Marbel, Cotabato; Ramon Villena, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya; Jose Corazon Tala-oc, Romblon; and Warlito Cajandig, Apostolic Bicariate of Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

"I'm sure that more than 90 percent of (Catholic) bishops will be in accord (with the statement)," Yñiguez said.

Meantime, the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA) national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said they invited 15 bishops affected by mining activities in their respective dioceses to come out with a pastoral letter, but only seven were able to sign the statement.

Other bishops who also expressed their support were Jose Corazon Tala-oc, Romblon; Pedro Arigo, Puerto Princesa City; Zacarias Jimenez, Butuan Auxialiary Bishop; Juan De Dios Pueblos, Butuan Bishop; Reynaldo Evangelista, Boac, Marinduque; Vicente Navarra, Bacolod; Jose Palma, Calbayog City, Samar; Leonardo Medroso, Eastern Samar; Angel Hobayan, Northern Samar; and Vicente Navarra, Bacolod.

Roy Calfoforo of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said they chose Yñiguez to lead the signing of the pastoral statement "for his active participation in the church to help carry out the issues and concerns of the 15 dioceses affected by mining."

Enrico Parilla, leader of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Zambales, urged the government to fully implement Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997 for the welfare of more than 20 million IPs nationwide.

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