MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Bishops in the Philippines call for mining moratorium

Published by MAC on 2008-12-30

In a pre-Xmas call, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has demanded a moratorium on all mining and logging - until Indigenous Peoples' rights are truly respected.

In response the country's Chamber of Mines claims the Bishops are "out of touch" with the million or more Flipinos and Filipinas who rely on the "responsible" segment of the industry.


Bishops seek ban on mining, logging

Manila Standard

9th December 2008

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has called for a moratorium on mining and on commercial logging to stop the destruction of the environment.

Pointing out that every Filipino depends on environment, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said the present and future must not be made to depend on programs that offer short-term gains for a chosen few.

"Our responsibility to our Mother Nature is our responsibility to ourselves. We call on all stakeholders, the government and its implementing arms to contribute in goodwill, so that in a responsible and humane manner we can reflect that human life does not have a price," said Lagdameo, CBCP president.

Since 1988, a number of new threats to the environment have surfaced, which include irresponsible mining, illegal logging and global warming and climate change, Lagdameo said.

Claiming that the Philippine Mining Industry has a poor record of community accountability, Lagdameo blasted mining companies that have been "systematically engaged in the rape of Mother Earth and left a legacy of impoverished communities and environmental despolation."
With very little regard for long-term development goals, Lagdameo said most mining projects were issued Environmental Compliance Certificate without securing the prior and informed consent of the affected communities.

Joining the call against the uncontrollable plunder of natural resources, Lagdameo said the Church is demanding a moratorium on mining activities until "the government and the mining companies learn to uphold the right of the indigenous peoples, compensate the affected communities for past damages, and ensure reponsible mining practices."
Lagdameo said the Mining Act itself has encouraged the exploitation of land by granting priority access rights to water and timber.

"Provisions such as these make it easier for the communities to slowly be eased out of their land. The expansion of sites granted with mining permits and clearances eat considerable portions of land devoted to agriculture," he said.

The CBCP is urging the government to impose a total ban on commercial logging and intensify efforts to rehabilitate and reforest logged over areas, particularly those places vulnerable to earthquakes, landslides and floods. Arlie Calalo


Upholding the Sanctity of Life

http://www.cbcpnews.com/?q=node/6256

(20 years after the CBCP Pastoral Letter "What is Happening to our Beautiful Land ?")

Beloved People of God,

"Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial" (1Cor. 6:12).

Twenty years after our pastoral letter regarding our environment, we reflect on the gains and failures of the years that have passed. The document began with a sombre reflection that, Our country is in peril. All the living systems on land and in the seas are being ruthlessly exploited. The damage to date, is extensive and, sad to say, often irreversible. We encourage the faithful to see their work and to protect creation within the context of their faith. As a people of the covenant, we are called to protect endangered ecosystems like our forests, coral reefs and mangroves, and to establish just and humane communities.

New threats to our environment

Since 1988, a number of new threats to our environment have surfaced. In this reflection, we will confine ourselves to the following: (a) irresponsible mining, (b) illegal logging, and (c) global warming and climate change.

A. Irresponsible Mining

The Philippine Mining Industry has a poor record of community accountability. Over the years, mining companies have systematically engaged in the rape of Mother Earth and left a legacy of impoverished communities and environmental despoliation.

In a Statement of Concern on the Mining Act of 1995, we called attention to the quotation from the Book of Numbers: Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell (Num 35:34). Today we ask ourselves whether we are going to repeat in the 21st century the mistakes we made in the past. Thus far, the country has already identified 23 priority mining project, which is estimated to encroach 60% of protected areas and about 1/3 of ancestral lands. With very little regard for long-term development goals, most mining projects issued Environmental Compliance Certificate without securing the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the affected communities. Uncontrolled and poorly regulated extraction and exploitation of mineral resources have threatened other resources. The Mining Act itself encourages the exploitation of our land by granting priority access rights to water and timber. Provisions such as these make it easier for the communities to slowly be eased out of their land. The expansion of sites granted with mining permits and clearances eat considerable portions of land devoted to agriculture.

We should be reminded that the Church's mission includes offering people an opportunity not to have more but to be more by awakening their conscience through the Gospel. We should learn from our Indigenous Filipinos who managed their forests in a sustainable way for hundreds and thousands of years. Alternatives such as agro-forestry and ecotourism can still provide jobs and food without endangering our lives and environment.

The Church joins in the collective and continuous call against the uncontrollable plunder of our natural resources. Above all, it calls on a moratorium on mining activities until the government and the mining companies learn to uphold the right of the indigenous peoples, compensate the affected communities for past damages, and ensure responsible mining practices.

B. Illegal Logging

Illegal and destructive logging largely contribute to the decimation of our forest resources which causes loss of biodiversity, instability and massive erosions of upland soils, serious damage to our rivers and underground freshwater ecosystems, and coastal areas.

The Philippines has lost at least 82 percent of its original forest cover since the 16th century. It has also earned the notoriety in Southeast Asia the only country with the thinnest forest cover. Among the 89 tropical countries, the Philippines is one of 11 with the lowest forest per capita (at 0.085 hectare/capita)-and most of its watersheds are considered degraded. Land conversion, together with slash-and-burn farming, forest fires, pest infestations, typhoons and illegal logging are the primary causes of deforestation.

The disastrous effects of destructive logging are further worsened by extreme climate occurrences associated with climate change. Extreme weather conditions such as typhoons cause flooding, massive landslides and terrible loss of life, the worst among them being the tragedies in Ormoc in 1991,Aurora and Quezon Provinces in 2004, Southern Leyte in 2006, and very recently, in Iloilo in June 2008.

The problem of illegal logging is an extremely complicated issue that must be dealt with by all stakeholders. The CBCP calls for an enhanced multisectoral cooperation, and the implementation of effective measures to clampdown the illegal logging trade. In particular, it urges the government to issue a total commercial log ban and intensify efforts to rehabilitate and reforest logged over areas, particularly those places vulnerable to earthquakes, landslides and floods.

C. Global Warming and Climate Change

The sea level rise due to the increase in temperature is projected to adversely affect 16 regions in the Philippines , 20 provinces and more than700 municipalities. Climate change has increased the number of stronger storms and typhoons that hit the country every year. Each typhoon that hits our land reminds us of our balding forests. With every landslide, we are reminded of the vulnerability of man against the dynamics of nature. The 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals that Manila , Cebu and Davao will be of great risk.

Nature constantly reminds us that it is not only the illegal acts committed by some that simultaneously burn and freeze our home; our daily habits and our choices contribute greatly to this tragedy. Our continuing dependence on fossil fuel and the government's subsidy on diesel, the use of coal as an alternative despite clear evidence of its highly polluting nature are the collective factors that contribute to the changing climate and weather patterns.

We must take advantage of the gifts of nature which offers healthier and less destructive options such as wind and solar energies, water and geothermal resources.

The challenge to preserve our beautiful land may be difficult but not impossible. We recommend that dioceses, parishes and other institutions especially the government would foster education on the protection of nature. We encourage every citizen to eliminate wasteful consumption. We pray that the government, in making economic and political decisions, would always consider that true stewardship does not mean economic gains for the powerful few. True stewardship is the constant and continuing work for the benefit of all.

Conclusion

No material gain can equate the value of life. Every Filipino depends on the environment. Because of the threats against these fragile resources, our lives and livelihood are likewise threatened. Our present and our future must not be made to depend on programs that offer short-term gains for a chosen few. Our responsibility to our mother nature is our responsibility to ourselves. We call on all stakeholders, the government and its implementing arms to contribute in good will, so that in responsible and humane manner we can reflect that human life does not have a price.

We end this Pastoral Letter with the words we used 20 years ago: "There is an urgency about this issue which calls for widespread education and immediate action. We are convinced that the challenge we have tried to highlight here is similar to the one which Moses put before the people of Israel , before they entered their promised land. "

For the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines .

+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
President


Bishop assails continued promotion of mining

GMANews.tv

11th December 2008

MANILA, Philippines - The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)'s social action arm assailed Wednesday the government's continuing promotion of mining in the country.

CBCP's National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) chairman Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said it is lamentable how the environment department betrayed its mandate to protect the ecosystem.

"Yun ang nakalulungkot... yung bias nila towards mining. DENR pa naman sila e sila pa yung broker ng mga minero. Sila pa yung tumutulak. Sila pa yung nanghihikayat (It is sad, this bias of theirs towards mining. No less than the DENR is acting as a broker for miners)," Pabillo said in an article on the CBCP website.

He said authorities continue to push the industry on mining despite several cases of environment abuse and an admission from the DENR that they lack have the capacity to monitor possible abuses.

"Inaamin ng DENR na wala silang kapasidad na mag-monitor ng ganitong pagmimina. Ang tanong namin, kung walang kapasidad, bakit ang daming permits na binibigay? Bakit hinahayaan yan (The DENR admitted it has no capacity to monitor these mining firms. If this is so, why is it giving out permits left and right)?" he said.

Pabillo cited the situation in Palawan, which he said demonstrates the massive mining operations taking place in the country.

He said almost a third of Palawan is covered by mining permits, which he said government may not be able to monitor.

Asked whether this would mean the call for DENR secretary Lito Atienza's resignation is imperative, Pabillo said the problem really lies in the government's mining policy.

"Kapag ang polisiya ng gobyerno ay pro-mining na para makakuha ng pera, kahit alisin si Atienza, maglalagay din sila ng katulad niya rin. Kaya hindi lang dapat tao ang palitan kundi ang polisiya na pamahalaan (If government has a pro-mining policy to earn money, even if we remove Atienza, his replacement will do the same)," he said.

The CBCP again called on government to move away from pro-mining policies until it has learned to institute much-needed safeguards against abuses to the environment.- GMANews.TV


Impose moratorium on mining, CBCP urges anew in pastoral letter

By Evelyn Macairan,

Philippine Star

10th December 2008

Concerned about the continued threats against the environment, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday issued a pastoral letter reiterating its appeal for a moratorium on mining activities and called for a multisectoral cooperation against illegal logging.

CBCP president and Jaro Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said the government and the people should work together to preserve and protect the environment and put little consideration on the short-term benefits.

"No material gain can equate the value of life. Every Filipino depends on the environment. Because of the threats against these fragile resources, our lives and livelihood are likewise threatened," said Lagdameo in the pastoral letter titled "Upholding the Sanctity of Life."

He added: "The challenge to preserve our beautiful land may be difficult but not impossible. We recommend that dioceses, parishes and other institutions especially the government would foster education on the protection of nature.

"We encourage every citizen to eliminate wasteful consumption. We pray that the government, in making economic and political decisions, would always consider that true stewardship does not mean economic gains for the powerful few. True stewardship is the constant and continuing work for the benefit of all."

These were the same positions expressed by the CBCP exactly 20 years ago in its pastoral letter titled "What is Happening to our Beautiful Land ?"

Their message remains the same: "There is an urgency about this issue which calls for widespread education and immediate action. We are convinced that the challenge we have tried to highlight here is similar to the one which Moses put before the people of Israel, before they entered their promised land. "

Lagdameo cited three most pressing environmental problems in the country: illegal logging, irresponsible mining, and the global warming and climate change.

He said the Philippines has a poor record of community accountability, allowing mining firms to "rape" Mother Earth, thus leading to impoverished communities and environmental despoliation.

Even the Mining Act encourages the exploitation of the land by granting priority access rights to water and timber, he said.

At present, there are 23 priority mining projects that have been identified, covering 60 percent of protected areas and about one-third of ancestral lands.

"We should be reminded that the Church's mission includes offering people an opportunity not to have more but to be more by awakening their conscience through the Gospel. We should learn from our indigenous Filipinos who managed their forests in a sustainable way for hundreds and thousands of years," Lagdameo said.

He said the government, non-government organizations and the people should consider alternative solutions, such as agro-forestry and eco-tourism, to resolve problems such as poverty and lack of employment.

"The Church joins in the collective and continuous call against the uncontrollable plunder of our natural resources. Above all, it calls for a moratorium on mining activities until the government and the mining companies learn to uphold the right of the indigenous peoples, compensate the affected communities for past damages, and ensure responsible mining practices," he said.

Lagdameo also expressed concern about illegal logging, which leads to loss of biodiversity, instability and massive erosion of upland soils, and serious damage to rivers and underground freshwater ecosystems and coastal areas.

He said, "The problem of illegal logging is an extremely complicated issue that must be dealt with by all stakeholders. The CBCP calls for an enhanced multisectoral cooperation, and the implementation of effective measures to clamp down on the illegal logging trade."

Lagdameo appealed to the Arroyo administration to issue a total commercial log ban and intensify efforts to rehabilitate and reforest logged-over areas, particularly those vulnerable to earthquakes, landslides and floods.


'CBCP call for mining moratorium out of touch'

Philippine Star

11th December 2008

Out of touch and insensitive. Thus said the Chamber of Mines in a statement yesterday on the call of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for a moratorium on mining activities.

"While we share the CBCP opposition to illegal and irresponsible mining, the Chamber of Mines finds the call for a moratorium on all mining activities out of touch and insensitive to the million or so Filipinos who derive their living from responsible and legitimate mining activities that contribute to the country and society," the chamber said.

It said, "Like many industries and groups that have individuals that work outside the law, society does not condemn all; just as the church has members who engage in improper activities we do not condemn all its members."

"The challenge for us all is to work together to find solutions rather than play politics on issues which does more harm than good," it added.

In a pastoral letter the other day, CBCP president and Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo reiterated the CBCP's appeal for a moratorium on mining activities as well as called for multisectoral cooperation against illegal logging.

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