Green groups, Catholic bishops urge Pope Francis to stand for ecology against large-scale mining

Source: 
Joint Press Release
Date of publication: 
14 January, 2015

Twenty-three environmental groups and four Catholic bishops appealed to Pope Francis to intervene on the issue of ecological devastation and human rights violations brought about by large-scale mining operations in the Philippines.

“We are appealing to Pope Francis and the Catholic Church to support the call of the Filipino people to stop large-scale mining plunder and destruction in the Philippines. The mining liberalization policy in the past two decades have led to the destruction of marine and freshwater ecosystems, denudation of forests, and displacement of peoples. As a result, communities suffer from worsening poverty and are more vulnerable to climate change impacts,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan PNE.

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, former Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Yniquez Jr., Eastern Samar Bishop Crispin Varquez, and Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo are among the bishops who signed the letter.

Environmental groups that signed the letter are Kalikasan PNE, Defend Patrimony Alliance, Panalipdan Mindanao, Cordillera People’s Alliance, People’s Surge, 350.org PH, Marinduque Center for Environmental Concerns, AGHAM, Sulong Kiblawan Para sa Kalikasan, UP Saribuhay, Homonhon Enviornmental Rescue Organization among others.

The group said that the Pope’s visit in Asia and Philippines is part of His preparation in formulating an Encyclical on Climate Change which will educate and instruct the Catholic Church hierarchy to act on environmental and climate change issues.

“The Catholic Church in the Philippines has always been concerned about the ecological destruction and community displacement caused by corporate mining in the country. Testament to this are the statements issued by Catholic Bishop of the Philippines (CBCP) raising concerns on the government’s mining policy. Bishops and priests are active in local and national movements for the protection of the environment and defense of communities against large-scale mining,” said Bishop Yniguez, convenor of Stewards of Creation, an ecumical group opposing big mining in the Philippines.

Bishops Bastes, Arigo and Varquez are vocal in their opposition to large-scale mining in their respective provinces.

Bishop Varquez from Eastern Samar will try to talk to the Pope during the Holy Father’s visit to Leyte on January 17. “The Yolanda-affected people of Samar and I are hoping that Pope Francis will take notice of the people’s suffering aggravated by impacts of large-scale mining and climate change,” says Bishop Varquez.

“We beseech His Holiness to rethink the investments of the Roman Catholic Church in giant mining companies, and, in line with Your righteous call, to invest in sustainable industries and the genuine development and welfare of your poor children,” read the letter to the Pope signed by the Catholic bishops and environmental groups.

Reference: Clemente Bautista 0922844978

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756 E-mail: secretariat [at] kalikasan [dot] net Website: www.kalikasan.net

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His Holiness
Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
Vatican City 00120

Most Holy Father,

We, the undersigned environmental advocates, grassroots leaders, and faithful servants, urgently write to Your Holiness to underscore our concern against large-scale mining owned by multinational and transnational corporations. These projects are being done in cooperation with government officials and local big businessmen. There are 46 different large-scale metallic mine projects across the Philippines, with thousands more approved or operating metallic and nonmetallic mine projects and mineral applications covering over a million hectares of mineralized areas.

Since the ratification of the Mining Act of 1995 opened up our nation’s lands to foreign largescale mining, poor farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous people and workers living in mine-affected areas have suffered from its destructive impacts. The current administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III further aggravated this policy with Executive Order 79, which, among other impositions, overrides local policy opposition to big mining operations.

In the past two decades, massive mine spills have caused the biological death of river and marine ecosystems, poisoned agricultural lands and fisheries, and displaced thousands of communities. Mining operations and their ‘investment defense forces’—paramilitary and military forces guarding mines, some of which are in the companies’ payroll—have caused widespread land-grabs, militarization, and human rights violations in the countryside.

The Church has always been concerned about the integrity of God’s creation and large-scale mining is an “attack being made on the natural world” that is “endangering its fruitfulness for future generations”1.

In this regard, we would like to appeal to Your Holiness for your prayers and your intervention. We humbly appeal for your solidarity with the countless poor victimized by big mining, by giving voice to their cries for the stoppage of plunder by large-scale mining and pull out of their military and paramilitary forces from the affected communities.

As a step towards this, we beseech His Holiness to rethink the investments of the Roman Catholic Church in giant mining companies, and, in line with your righteous call to invest in sustainable industries and the genuine development and welfare of your poor children.

We pray for your Your Holiness’ support to this request of your most obedient and humble servants.

1 ‘Pastoral Letter on Ecology’ Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (1988)

Clemente Bautista
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

Frances Quimpo
Executive Director
Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines

Dr. Giovanni Tapang
Chairperson
AGHAM-Advocates of Science & Technology for the People

Pya Macliing Malayao
National Coordinator
KAMP (Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas)/
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines

Kakay Tolentino
National Coordinator
BAI Indigenous Women’s Network

Rep. Fernando Hicap
National Chairman
PAMALAKAYA
Anakpawis Representative

Nonilon Sidney A. Abao
Chairperson
Minggan – UP Diliman

Mr. Windel Bolinget
Chairperson
Cordillera Peoples Alliance

Dr. Jean Lindo
Co-Chair
Panalipdan Mindanao

Kim Ajeas Gargar
Spokesperson
Panalipdan Southern Mindanao

Carlos Trangia
Spokesperson
Barug Katawhan

Marvin Doods de Castro
Coordinator
Panalipdan Youth Southern Mindanao

Dr. Ruth Gamboa
Chairperson
AGHAM-SMR

Most Rev. Arturo M. Bastes
Bishop or Sorsogon

Most Rev. Deogracias Yniquez Jr.
Former Bishop of Caloocan

Most Rev. Crispin Varquez
Bishop of Eastern Samar

Most Rev. Pedro Arigo
Palawan Bishop

Arsen D. Sumeg-ang
MJ (Missionary of Jesus)

Pablo Bello Jr.
Chairperson
Sulong Tiblawan Para sa Kalikasan (Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental)

Gil Dominic Catalan
Chairperson
UP Saribuhay

Bianca Victoria Aljibe
Chairperson
Minggan – UP Manila

Fr. Oliver Castor
Chairperson
Bukal Batangas

Sr. Cecille Ido, OSB
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation-Missionary Benedictine Sisters (JPIC-MBS)

Patrick Torres
Executive Director
Central Visayas Farmers Development Center, Inc (FARDEC)

Elizabeth E. Manggol
Executive Secretary
Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC)

Erenio Bobolla
Leader
Didipio Landowners Association

Villardo Abueme
President
Homonhon Environment Rescuers Organization (HERO)

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Environmental groups hopeful over Pope Francis’ visit, awaits Papal Encyclical on Climate Change

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

15 January 2015

Environmental groups led by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), People Surge Alliance for Yolanda (Haiyan) Survivors, and 350.org Pilipinas joined the millions of Filipinos who welcomed the Pope’s arrival today.

In Manila, advocates under Kalikasan PNE and 350.org Pilipinas participated in a Mass organized by peasant groups from the Southern Tagalog Region who aim to bring up the issues of land grabbing and mining with the pontiff.

“We see Pope Francis as an environmental activist and leader. He consistently issues his stand on ecological destruction, environmental degradation and climate change impacts. He lobbies international institutions and national governments to unite and immediately act in addressing global warming,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

During the 20th UN Climate Change Conference in Peru in 2014, Pope Francis said “an effective fight against global warming will be possible only with a collective and responsible answer….free from political and economic influence.”

“We believe Pope Francis’ visit is part of his preparation in coming out with his much-awaited Encyclical on Climate Change and Human Ecology. We hope this will outline the position and actions of the Catholic Church on climate change concerns like fossil fuels, large-scale mining, coal and nuclear power plants, and the accountability of polluting countries like the United States, Japan, and the European Union,” Bautista said.

In Tacloban, People Surge was joined by its fellow conveners from the People’s Committee to Welcome the Pope in Eastern Visayas to put up creative posters and white ribbons bearing the Pontiff’s remarkable quotes on the issue of environment, climate change, and social justice to remind the public on the ongoing plight of disaster survivors in the region.

“We hope Pope Francis surprises the world by sifting through the police barriers and grandiose displays to witness the true situation of Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas, as we continue to suffer from state abandonment amidst the worsening climate crisis. We survivors of recent typhoon disasters hope for the Holy Father’s solidarity in our struggles against continuing militarization, corruption, and large-scale mining aggression that are further worsening the situation in our communities,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge.

Yesterday, four Catholic Bishops and 23 environmental organizations submitted an appeal letter to the Apostolic Nunciature of the Philippines where Pope Francis will stay during his trip. Their appeal is for Pope Francis to intervene on the issue of mining destruction in the Philippines and asking the Catholic Church to divest from large-scale mining companies.

In June 2011, Archdiocese of Manila led by Cardinal Tagle pulled out their investment in Philex Mining Corproration, and in September 2014 it divested in Philex Petroleum.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista 09228449787

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756 | E-mail: secretariat [at] kalikasan [dot] net | Site: www.kalikasan.net

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#DearPopeFrancis | 4 bishops join green groups urge Pope to speak vs large-scale mining

By: InterAksyon.com – http://www.interaksyon.com/article/102969/dear-pope-francis—4-bishops-...

14 January 2015

MANILA, Philippines — Four Catholic bishops joined 23 environmental groups in appealing to Pope Francis to back their calls against “large-scale mining plunder and destruction in the Philippines.”

“We, the undersigned environmental advocates, grassroots leaders, and faithful servants, urgently write to Your Holiness to underscore our concern against large-scale mining owned by multinational and transnational corporations,” the letter, released Wednesday, a day before the Pope arrives in the country, said.

Among the signatories were Bishops Arturo Bastes of Sorsogin, Crispin Varquez of Eastern Samar, Pedro Arigo of Palawan and Deogracas Iniguez, retired bishop of Caloocan, and the environmental groups Kalikasan PNE, Defend Patrimony Alliance, Panalipdan Mindanao, Cordillera People’s Alliance, People’s Surge, 350.org PH, Marinduque Center for Environmental Concerns, AGHAM, Sulong Kiblawan Para sa Kalikasan, UP Saribuhay, Homonhon Environmental Rescue Organization, among others.

“Since the ratification of the Mining Act of 1995 opened up our nation’s lands to foreign large-scale mining, poor farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous people and workers living in mine-affected areas have suffered from its destructive impacts,” the letter said.

“The current administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III further aggravated this policy with Executive Order 79, which, among other impositions, overrides local policy opposition to big mining operations,” it added.

The signatories said that, over the past two decades, “massive mine spills have caused the biological death of river and marine ecosystems, poisoned agricultural lands and fisheries, and displaced thousands of communities. Mining operations and their ‘investment defense forces’ — paramilitary and military forces guarding mines, some of which are in the companies’ payroll — have caused widespread land-grabs, militarization, and human rights violations in the countryside.”

“We humbly appeal for your solidarity with the countless poor victimized by big mining, by giving voice to their cries for the stoppage of plunder by large-scale mining and pull out of their military and paramilitary forces from the affected communities,” they said.

At the same time, citing the Catholic Church’s oft-voiced concern for “the integrity of God’s creation,” they also urged the Pope “to rethink the investments of the Roman Catholic Church in giant mining companies, and, in line with your righteous call to invest in sustainable industries and the genuine development and welfare of your poor children.”

Iniguez, a convenor of Stewards of Creation, an ecumenical group opposed to large-scale mining in the country, noted that the church “has always been concerned about the ecological destruction and community displacement caused by corporate mining in the country” and cited several statements by the Catholic Bishop of the Philippines and the active participation of priests and bishops in local and national movements protecting the environment.

Varquez, on the other hand, said he would try to talk to the Pope during the pontiff’s visit to Leyte on Saturday, January 17.

“The Yolanda-affected people of Samar and I are hoping that Pope Francis will take notice of the people’s suffering aggravated by impacts of large-scale mining and climate change,” Varquez said, referring to the survivors of the November 8, 2013 super typhoon that devastated his province as well as Leyte and large parts of the central Philippines.