Church's anti-mining petition gathers pace
Online campaign receives 6,000 signatures against Mindanao project
Bishop Broderick Pabillo
More than 6,000 people have signed a petition by the bishop’s conference social action secretariat calling for Swiss company Xstrata to cease mining operations at one of the world’s largest untapped gold and copper deposits.
The petition, launched last month, adds to 170,000 signatures gathered by Catholic social action centers in the dioceses of Kidapawan, Marbel and Digos in Mindanao.
“As you can see, the project is very unpopular in its vicinity,” said Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the leader of the petition launched on Change.org.
The Tampakan mine has generated huge controversy in the Philippines over alleged support from state paramilitary groups and efforts to challenge a previous ban on open-pit mining on the area.
The project is expected to result in the destruction of 4,000 hectares of forest and farm land.
“Our natural resources are not for the few but for the people,” said labor leader Leody de Guzman.
A study commissioned by three Swiss and German aid agencies last month found gross human rights violations committed by Sagittarius Mines, Xstrata’s local subsidiary.
The operator is showing “insufficient respect for the rights of the affected population,” the study claimed.
In its social development survey published last year, Xstrata said it had spent US$58 million on corporate social involvement programs including education, health and job creation in the area around the mine.
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