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Call for Duterte to keep promise on mining

MANILA (UCAN): “I hope he supports our plea for a total mining ban, especially in Batangas,” Bishop Ramon Arguelles, from Lipa, said in reflecting on a promise made by Philippine president-elect, Rodrigo Duterte, to punish companies that employ destructive mining practices in the country.

During his victory speech after the election in May, Duterte said that big mining companies have destroyed the environment, especially in the southern region of Mindanao.

He made a promise to prioritise the interests of the Filipino people over corporate interests, especially in the mining industry.

An alliance of Church people and environmental advocates, The Coalition for the Preservation of the Verde Island Passage, has been urging the Philippine government to ensure the protection of Verde Island off the coast of Batangas, which was declared to be the centre of the centre of marine shore fish biodiversity following a 2005 study.

The group says a government declaration should protect sea waters and towns around the island from mining and also from the polluting effects of the operation of a coal-fired power plant in the nearby town of Lobo.

At the beginning of June, Archbishop Arguelles called on people in the province to gather in Lobo and pray that the country’s newly-elected administration will keep its pre-election promise and pass a law banning mining in the area.

“Let us be steadfast and determined in following Pope Francis’ call to protect our common home,” the archbishop said, citing the pope’s encyclical, Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si’).

Meanwhile, the environmental advocacy group, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, has praised the announcement by Duterte to punish destructive mining.

“We welcome (Duterte’s) ultimatum against destructive large-scale mining and encourage him to expand his scope. There are so many violations and much destruction brought about by corporate mining all over the country,” Clemente Bautista, the group’s national coordinator, said.

Duterte said big mining concerns have destroyed the environment, especially in the southern region of Mindanao, and he promised that Filipino interests will be prioritised over corporate interests in the future.

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