MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Faith drives me to oppose mining: bishop

Published by MAC on 2004-10-20

Faith drives me to oppose mining: bishop

By Aquiles Zonio, Mindanews

October 20, 2004

Tampakan, South Cotabato -- Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel claimed faith is the reason why the Church is taking a critical stance against large-scale mining.

The bishop made the statement after a caravan rally was held to dramatize their opposition to the mining exploration of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI).

SMI is now conducting drilling operations in the tri-boundary of the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Davao Del Sur.

Mining, the bishop claimed, is destructive and would subvert truth, justice, love and peace, which are the very foundation of Christian faith.

He said the stand of the church is "absolutely no to mining."

When asked why there are priests who are supportive of mining, the bishop said, "It's their personal stand, not the official stand of the Church."

Gutierrez further said that the B'laans from five tribal communities in the mining site supported the Tampakan Copper-Gold project of SMI primarily because of material consideration.

"You know the general behavior of the natives. They give their consent in exchange for material things. I doubt whether they really made an independent decision or they were simply duped," the bishop lamented.

He said that last Monday's protest rally was just one of a series of Church-led protest actions against mining.

"We will continue the fight without let up," he added.

Close to 1,000 placard-bearing participants from various parishes of the diocese joined in the protest action against mining held Monday in front of the Roman Catholic Church in this town.

Other participants came from as far as Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat.

They were demanding that SMI stopped its mining exploration and immediately leave the area.

Just a stone's throw away from where the anti-mining groups was holding a protest rally was a large throng of B'laans holding a thanksgiving and celebration of the indigenous people's (IP) month.

All the five tribal chieftains of the host communities in the mining area were present during the affair.

The celebration was highlighted by the launching of "La Maska," a B'laan term which means a covenant of solidarity.

The tribal leaders present agreed to remain steadfast in their decision to support mining despite pressures from outside forces.

The B'laans asked the Church to respect their right to decide for themselves.

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