The social action arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines has called for reparations for the damages caused by mining operations in Eastern Samar.
“We stand by the communities seeking redress for the loss and damage caused by mining operations,” said Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr., executive director of Caritas Philippines. “The ecological destruction and the disruption of livelihoods demand accountability and reparations.”
Caritas Philippines made the statement on the eve of the “Jericho Walk” – an anti-mining prayer rally – event in Guiuan town in Eastern Samar province on Jan. 20.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, vice president of Caritas Philippines, said the devastating impacts of mining on the environment and the lives of the people “are a stark reminder of the urgency to act”.
“We condemn the practices that prioritize profit over the well-being of individuals and ecosystems,” he said.
The prelate urged the government to “listen to the cries for climate justice,” adding that the call for responsible resource management and the protection of vulnerable communities “must be heard and acted upon”.
“We urge for a shift towards sustainable development models that prioritize the long-term health of our planet and its inhabitants,” he said.
The islands of Homonhon and Manicani in Guiuan town are hosts to several large-scale mining companies.
In April last year, Bishop Crispin Varquez raised alarm over what he described as “escalated” mining operations in the historic island of Homonhon off Guiuan town, where the Christian faith first arrived in the Philippines 502 years ago.
The social action arm of Borongan diocese reported that at least four mining companies are operating in Homonhon, which is known for its vast deposits of nickel and chromite.
Fr. Labiao issued an appeal to the international community “to stand with us in demanding an end to mining in our archipelago”. He said, “The fragile ecosystems of our islands cannot withstand the onslaught of unsustainable mining practices.”
“We believe in the power of collective action and the transformative potential of solidarity,” Fr. Labiao said. “We will walk alongside the communities affected by mining, advocating for their rights and seeking solutions that prioritize the common good.”