Statement on Mining

Statement on mining

Ecumenical Bishops Forum

Church People’s Conference On Mining

St. Thomas Aquinas Research Complex

University of Santo Tomas

Contaminated and rapid sedimentation of the Antamok and Luneta Rivers, downstream river and coastal area; tailings seeping through the retaining wall into the river; toxic wastes spilled into the water systems during heavy rains and typhoons making water unsafe for bathing, washing clothes or irrigation, siltation of rivers, drying up of major water springs; and adverse effects pon agricultural, river and coastal fishery resources in the province of Pangasinan. – from the findings of Benguet Corporation’s mining activities in Itogon, Benguet.

In Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte the struggle to maintain the right to life, the right to dignity and the right to development has become a lifelong struggle for the people. Since 1990 the people have been opposing the Canadian Mining Firm TVI Resource Development Philippine Incorporated. “It seems that no method is too unscrupulous in TVI’s  drive to dominate the gold rush area in sitio Canatuan, but the harder they push, the louder the locals cry.” – Andrea Patenaude, “Bully on the Mountain”

These two glaring facts represent only a few of the destructive effects of large-scale mining  both to communities and the ecology, prompted primarily by the race for corporate profit and undertaken by foreign mining firms. We have seen and heard all of these on one hand. On the other hand, we have also heard the revenues and gains of the government over the years through the mining of our resources. The irony is that while our country has the minerals and transnational companies have mined these minerals for years, we have not actually stood to benefit. The gains crowed by our government is miniscule compared to the ecological costs. Consider too, that what has been mined and what has been destroyed to allow for mining can never be restored. Our nation has not attained self-sufficiency and we continue to suffer the brunt of economic policies imposed upon us from across the seas.

The Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum unites its voice against the Mining Act of 1995 and other attendant ordinances that allow for the take-over and control by foreign mining firms of potential resources of our country. Despite what these laws say about safety nets, it is our experience in this country that foreign mining firms pay lip service to the dignity and well-being of the people especially those directly affected by such mining activities. We join the call for its immediate repeal and support the growing movements of local communities in studying the issues well and making a principled opposition.

We have gotten out of the habit of thinking about the things that matter most or perhaps we have a perverted sense of what really matters: implications to profit, subservience to globally imposed economic conditions instead of the long-term survival of the family or community or country; staving off the economic crisis instead of addressing the obvious causes of the ills plaguing our nation and taking into consideration the well-being of our communities, our posterity and the future of the ecosystem. We never seemed to actually realize the serious significance of the interrelatedness of all things on earth and the consequences of anything we do, which reverberate throughout the whole created order of which humans are just a small part.

Our life as a nation cannot and should not be dictated upon neither by market forces nor of the impositions of stronger nations. It must also be rooted in our dignity as a nation, our patrimony – the well being of future generations.

Hear the words of the Psalmist chanted of old: “Let the heavens be glad and the let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with his truth.” God is sovereign and through the ages, human beings have voiced out the voice of God’s creation. We, your bishops in the EBF urge a serious recognition of the sanctity of the present rather as equally important to the sacred future and we must persist in teaching ourselves and others to return to our rightful place in creation – as a small part therein, as stewards and not as conquerors of the rest of creation, and as the primarily reflection of God’s will for his Garden, long violated by human greed for more and the desire to play god.


Co-chairperson, Ecumenical Bishops Forum

February 8, 2005

St. Thomas Aquinas Research Complex

University of Santo Tomas

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