CBCP-NASSA and ATM
Joint Statement on the Mining Issue During the Visit of Pope Francis
Manila and Tacloban in the Philippines: 15-19 January 2015
“Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell (Num. 35:34).”
In two instances, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has published statements on the mining issue in the Philippines. In 1995, the CBCP asked for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act (RA 7942) citing the “devastating effects and the adverse social impacts of mining that will destroy both environment and people and will lead to national unrest”. The Bishops expressed their support for the many local petitions against mining operations in the Philippines. Then in 2006, CBCP re-affirmed their stand for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, believing that “the Mining Act destroys life”. The Bishops stated that “allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people’s right to these sources amounts to violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people’s health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas.”
Last Sept. 9, 2013, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone read the message of Pope Francis to the mining industry during the Day of Reflection between the Mining Industry and the Vatican. The Holy Father reminded everyone that “ the great challenge of business leaders is to create a harmony of interests, involving investors, managers, workers, their families, the future of their children, the preservation of the environment on both a regional and international scale, and a contribution to world peace.”
CBCP-NASSA and ATM believes that any meaningful dialogue or engagement with the mining industry must be strongly built on the Catholic Social Teachings and informed by the principles of:
a) Integrity of Creation – The interrelatedness and interconnectedness of nature and man within nature, must be recognized, and that large-scale destruction of forests by mining operations must be contained to preserve ecological sustainability.
b) Responsible Stewardship – Human extractive activity must not disrupt sustenance of current needs nor the needs of future generations. Human activity must promote harmony and development that correspond with God’s plan, paying close attention to consequences of these actions
c) Human Dignity – mining projects must not exploit the already marginalized people, including the mine workers who are not justly compensated, or the farmers who lose their irrigation, or the fishers who see their waters contaminated or the indigenous peoples who not only lose their lands, but their livelihoods and culture as well, and women and children lose their access to health and well-being
d) Preferential Option for the Poor – communities affected by mining loss their access to land and water, leaders are bribed and corruption breeds bad governance, and the benefits of mineral extractions are cornered by the elites.
To this end, we implore the Holy Father to support and stand with the communities, local organizations and popular movements who are responding to the challenges of the mining industry. We urge Pope Francis to:
1. Support the call of Philippine Bishops and the mining-affected communities to repeal the Philippine Mining Act (RA 7942) and the clamor for a new mining law that recognizes the environment and ecology, respects human rights and ensures that negative impacts of mining are completely addressed and avoided;
2. Ensure that the voices of the marginalized and the poor are heard and given space in any dialogue or interaction between the Church and the mining industry, from the local up to the global levels;
3. Encourage the Catholic leadership as well as other religious leaders, to practice their stewardship role in facilitating harmony, peace and social justice to address the issues brought by mining and other extractive industries. The way forward must include a true discernment incorporating the attempt to correct historical injustices, promoting greater transparency and seeking and working for alternatives to the market-driven and consumerist-materialist economic system.
We are confident that the Holy Father will be the inspiration of Filipinos who struggle to convert and renew themselves, and become true stewards of God’s creation. We continuously invoke the grace of the Holy Spirit to bless us with spiritual fervor, and we are ever grateful to Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, for her intercession.
Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines
National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA)
Alyansa Tigil Mina
(Alliance Against Mining)
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