DAVAO CITY–Catholic prelates in Mindanao have reiterated its opposition to the $5.9 billion Tampakan mining project in South Cotabato.
Marbel Bishop Dinualdo D. Gutierrez told DavaoToday that “the prelates of Mindanao are hoping that President Aquino will now heed our calls to stop the Tampakan project, discerning on the protection and preservation of the environment and the life of the Lumad inhabitants in South Cotabato.”
“South Cotabato can survive without mining, contrary to government’s claim of economic growth. I am hoping that our letter will get Aquino’s attention,” Gutierrez said.
The Mindanao Bishops’ letter of appeal led by Marbel Bishop Dinualdo D. Gutierrez stated its opposition to the SMI Glencore/Xstrata Copper-Gold Project and asked President Aquino III for a “God-enlightened decision.’
In the said letter, the Mindanao Bishops said that “the Tampakan project will cause the dislocation of almost 6,000 surface dwellers, mostly B’laans, from their ancestral land is against human right.”
The Bishops also opposed the project because “the threat to food security and human life through the use of cyanide and heavy metals for processing ores is very real.”
Davao Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, D.D, Tagum Bishop Wilfredo D. Manlapaz, D.D. and Mati Bishop Patricio H. Alo, D.D. were among the 23 Mindanao Bishops who signed a letter of appeal “strongly urging the President Benigno Aquino III not to allow Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) to mine the mountain of Tampakan, South Cotabato, for copper and gold.”
Aside from the Roman Catholic Church and anti-mining groups opposing the Tampakan mining project, an online petition on Change.org initiated by Bishop Broderick Pabillo is continuously gaining supporters from netizens.
The “STOP TAMPAKAN MINING PROJECT” marked today its more than 10, 000 individuals who signed the online petition to call on the Aquino government to stop its implementation.
Nelda Balaba, a resident from Koronadal, Cotabato opined: “The next generation have the right to what we are enjoying now. The rights of the Filipino people especially the vulnerable and the excluded must be give priority to access our natural resources.”
“Open pit mining will destroy the creation of God. If destruction happens, the people will suffer,” netizen Mellie Castaneda commented.
Austin Hernandez from Quezon City also said: “We are people, we can plan the project we can also stop it. We are entitled to our own space and so should nature be as well.”
A certain Georie Pitong of Iloilo commented, “Ang mga malalaking kompanya ng pagmimina ay pinakikinabangan at sinisira ang ating mga likasyaman. Mayaman ang Pilipinas, pero mahihirap at lalong humihirap si Juan at Juana de la Cruz.”
The Tampakan open-pit mining project operated by Sagittarius Mines Inc. will explore 13.5 million metric tons of copper and 15.8 million ounces of gold. The company claimed it can provide P134 billion to the Philippine economy each year.
Anti-mining groups have consistently appealed to halt the project but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued an environmental compliance certicate to Sagittarius, a unit of
Xstrata, in February last year. (Mart D. Sambalud /davaotoday.com)