A Catholic bishop has called on the Philippines' incoming president to implement a total ban on mining. Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa said he hopes Rodrigo Duterte will listen to the plea of the people. "I hope he supports our plea for a total mining ban especially in Batangas," the prelate said. The Coalition for the Preservation of the Verde Island Passage, an alliance of church people and environmental activists, has been urging the Philippine government to ensure the protection of Verde Island, off the coast of Batangas province, which was declared the "center of the center" of marine shore fish biodiversity following a 2005 study. The group said a government declaration should protect seawaters and towns around the island from mining and the operation of a coal-fired power plant in the nearby town of Lobo.
Last week, Archbishop Arguelles called on Catholics in the province to gather in Lobo and pray for the country's leaders to keep their pre-election promise to pass a law to ban mining in the area. "Let us be steadfast and determined in following Pope Francis' call to protect our common home," said the prelate referring to the pope's encyclical Laudato si'
. Meanwhile, the environmental activist group, Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
, has praised an announcement by Duterte to punish destructive mining. "We welcome [the president's] ultimatum against destructive large-scale mining and encourage him to expand his scope. There are so many violations and much destruction brought about by corporate mining all over the country," said Clemente Bautista, the group's national coordinator. In his recent election victory speech, Duterte said big miners have destroyed the environment, especially in the southern region of Mindanao, and promised that Filipino interests will be prioritized over corporate interests in mining.
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