Caritas Philippines backs Senate probe into mining impacts

April 18, 2024

The social action arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines has called for a comprehensive Senate inquiry into the environmental and social impacts of mining and quarrying across the country. 

This appeal supports Senate Resolution No. 989, initiated by Senator Risa Hontiveros, in light of the upcoming Earth Day celebrations on April 22.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Vice President of Caritas Philippines, emphasized the urgency of evaluating the adverse effects associated with mining and quarrying on local communities and natural ecosystems. 

Citing recent environmental catastrophes, including a devastating landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro, Bishop Alminaza highlighted the necessity for this critical examination. 

“Recent tragedies and environmental disruptions linked to mining and quarrying underscore the need for a thorough investigation,” he said.

“The plight of communities impacted by the negative effects of mining and quarrying cannot be ignored,” Bishop Alminaza added. 

In 2015, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a pastoral letter that reminded the public of their intergenerational responsibility to protect the environment.

Bishop Alminaza said the pastoral letter reiterated that “as stewards of the Earth, we have a moral imperative to protect our environment for future generations.”

He said climate change is not only an environmental concern but also a pressing social justice issue, affecting communities already impacted by the mining industry.

The proposed Senate investigation seeks to review current regulations, aiming to enhance environmental protections and ensure fair distribution of benefits to impacted communities. 

It follows not only the tragic incidents in Maco but also ongoing concerns about extensive mining activities on Homonhon Island, which pose significant threats to its biodiversity and the well-being of local inhabitants.

“As we approach Earth Day, we renew our commitment to advocate for sustainable and responsible management of our natural resources,” Bishop Alminaza said. 

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