Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: May 17, 2021 09:59 AM GMT
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila has attacked the decision by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to lift a moratorium on mining. (Photo: Mark Saludes/UCA News)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to lift a moratorium on mining last month is directly linked to the national elections in 2022 , according to a leading churchman.
Duterte lifted the nine-year moratorium on new mining agreements in mid-April purportedly to boost the economy by creating jobs amid the Covid-19 crisis.
He also said taxes generated would support infrastructure projects across the country.
“They [government officials] really need the money for elections. And these big mining firms are the ones giving away the money in exchange for getting permits,” Bishop Pabillo said at a Mass on May 16.
“In our current situation, it will not benefit the country but only a few,” he added.
Mining is one of the causes of the destruction of communities of indigenous peoples and the poor
By allowing new mining agreements, the government has also given the green light to environmental degradation including human rights abuses against Filipino workers, he said.
“Mining is one of the causes of the destruction of communities of indigenous peoples and the poor. We will see once again human rights violations and red-tagging of indigenous peoples, farmers, fishermen and environmentalists against mining,” Bishop Pabillo said.
Bishop Pabillo is a staunch advocate of indigenous peoples’ rights and caring for the environment.
In 2013, he launched an online campaign against the Philippines’ largest copper and gold mining corporation to call on former president Benigno Aquino to investigate the mining firm and review mining concessions and requirements.
“We need someone like Bishop Pabillo who bravely fights for the rights of the poor and the unheard, particularly the indigenous peoples. If our bishops will not fight for the oppressed, who will?” Manila parishioner Leonardo Harael told UCA News.
He said Pabillo’s comments were also a reminder to Filipino Catholics to mark the anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on protecting the environment, Laudato Si', issued on May 24, 2015.
“May our politicians be reminded to care for the environment so that it may be spared from abuse in order to generate profit for selfish gain,” Harael added.