Mining Breeds Poverty, Says CBCP Official

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - An official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declared Saturday that mining makes more people poor. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), issued the statement in reply to the claim made by a mining advocate during a Mining Summit last Friday in Makati

City that mining is not the enemy but poverty. "It has something to do with the poor because mining makes more people poor," he told reporters in an interview in a gathering in Manila.

"I'm sure those who engage in mining, they have not come to help the poor. They have come to get the resources of the country, and if there is any help for the poor, it's very minimal," added Pabillo.

The CBCP official said business does not come to help the poor, but rather to get profit.

This, Pabillo said, is the reason the government should control the interests of business for the sake of the common good.

"The problem is the government is not capable of monitoring it...Why don't you see the land that can be productive? Once you get the minerals, it's already destroyed," he said.

"These untapped mining resources are not only for us. It's for all the Filipinos and for the incoming generations. It is not just that we destroy that (natural resources), and leave nothing for the incoming generations," added Pabillo.

To recall, the CBCP has been repeatedly calling on the government for a mining moratorium and the amendment of the country's mining laws.

For his part, Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP-NASSA, said large-scale mining, which is being promoted by the Mining Act of 1995, poses bigger damage to the environment.

Meanwhile, calls to amend laws governing mining activities in the country piled up in the House of Representatives following a heated debate between business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan and environmental advocate Gina Lopez in an open forum in Makati City on Friday night.

Kakai Tolentino, spokesperson of Katribu party-list group, urged lawmakers to repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which liberalized mining in the country and encouraged foreign investments in the industry.

"During the 17 years of the implementation of the Philippine Mining Act, all that the Philippines achieved was environmental destruction, violation of indigenous peoples' rights and relentless foreign plunder of our rich mineral resources," Tolentino said. …