Philippine Bishops Oppose Harmful Mining

MANILA, Philippines, FEB. 9, 2005 ( Bishops in the Philippines have sided with the poorest classes of the population, threatened by unregulated mining activities.

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The bishops’ position was expressed in a letter written by Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, president of the episcopate, to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The AsiaNews agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions explained that Archbishop Capalla’s statement responds to Arroyo’s decision to offer incentives to foreign companies to invest in the country’s mining sector.

According to Arroyo, such projects are an important step to alleviate the country’s poverty, which explains her backing of the Mining Act of 1995, a law designed to increase mining activities.

The Senate, however, introduced a measure in December to override the 1995 law, in order to halt further environmental degradation caused by mining.

In his letter, Archbishop Capalla acknowledged that it would be «a waste not to use the Philippines’ rich natural resources for the benefit of Filipinos, but it would be a greater waste to misuse and abuse the natural wealth.»

Thus, «the government should consider the ecological and social costs accompanying the economic bonanza from mining» before taking any initiative, the archbishop urged.

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