Caritas Philippines has expressed solidarity with a faith-based group that is facing libel charges from a mining company.
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary, described the case against the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. as pure "harassment for defending the environment from destructive mining."
The complaint by Hinatuan Mining Corporation stemmed from a Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. report in June 2015 that a barge of the company allegedly destroyed small fishing boats off the coast of Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. *
The boats were used by fishermen to form a barricade to keep the barge, which was carrying heavy equipment and trucks to be used for hauling nickel ore stockpile, from docking.
For Father Gariguez, the libel suit is a form of "strategic legal action against public participation" of an organization committed to help communities and protect the environment.
Renewed tension gripped the island last month after Hinatuan, an affiliate of Nickel Asia, started removing nickel ore despite strong opposition from the area's residents.
Hinatuan's operations have been suspended since 2001 for allegedly causing aquatic and soil erosion. It has since then sought a permit to haul and load more than 150,000 tons of ore stockpiles.
*This paragraph has been corrected. The earlier version inadvertently said it was a Misereor report.
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