A statement on mining issues
A statement by the Catholic Bishops'
Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
“Do not defile the land
where you live and where I dwell” (Num. 35:34)
Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We are Pastors. We listen to
the voice of the flock and take care of them. In our task to care for them,
we reiterate our concern for the Earth, the source of life for all.
In 1998, we in the CBCP
issued “A Statement of Concern on the Mining Act of 1995”. We
declared that the government mining policy is offering our lands to
foreigners with liberal conditions while our people continue to grow in
poverty. We stated that the adverse social impact on the affected
communities far outweigh the gains promised by mining Trans-National
Corporations (TNCs). In our 1998 statement we also forewarned that the
“implementation of the Mining Act will certainly destroy both environment
and people and will lead to national unrest.”
We reaffirm our stand for
the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995. We believe that the Mining Act
destroys life. The right to life of people is inseparable from their right
to sources of food and livelihood. Allowing the interests of big mining
corporations to prevail over people’s right to these sources amount to
violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people’s health
and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in
rivers and seas.
Our experiences of
environmental tragedies and incidents with the mining transnational
corporations belie all assurances of sustainable and responsible mining that
the Arroyo Administration is claiming. Increasing number of mining affected
communities, Christians and non-Christians alike, are subjected to human
rights violations and economic deprivations. We see no relief in sight.
President Arroyo’s “Mining
Revitalization Program” is encouraging further the entry and operation of
large-scale mining of TNCs. Alarmingly, the mining tenements granted through
the program have encroached into seventeen (17) of important biodiversity
areas, into thirty-five (35) of national conservation priority areas, and
thirty-two (32) of national integrated protected areas. The promised
economic benefits of mining by these transnational corporations are
outweighed by the dislocation of communities especially among our indigenous
brothers and sisters, the risk to health and livelihood and massive
environmental damage. Mining areas remain among the poorest areas in the
country such as the mining communities in CARAGA, Bicol and Cordillera
Regions. The cultural fabric of indigenous peoples is also being destroyed
by the entry of mining corporations.
Moreover, we are
apprehensive that the proposed deletion of the nationalist provisions in the
Constitution by the Constitutional Commission (CONCOM) can pave the way to
the wholesale plunder of our National Patrimony, and undermine our
We reiterate our request to
the President to recall all approved mining concessions, and to disapprove
As Shepherds, we remind
faithful of God’s injunction to us through our first parents to care for and
cultivate the Earth (Genesis
2:15). As believers, we should live a lifestyle that is outwardly
simple yet inwardly rich and compassionate to the Earth community. We
therefore call on all religious leaders:
unify and strengthen the struggle of the local Churches and
against all mining projects, and raise the anti-mining campaign at the
To support the
call of various sectors, especially the Indigenous Peoples, to stop the 24
Priority Mining Projects of the government, and the closure of large-scale
mining projects, for example, the Rapu-rapu Polymetallic Project in Albay,
HPP Project in Palawan, Didippio Gold-Copper Project in Nueva Viscaya,
Tampakan Copper-gold Project in South Cotabato, Canatuan Gold Project in
Zamboanga del Norte, and the San Antonio Copper Project in Marinduque, among
To support the
conduct of studies on the evil effects of mining in dioceses;
To support all
economic activities that are life-enhancing and poverty-alleviating.
As we have said in our 1998
statement, “even our best efforts will come to nothing without the help of
God, our Creator. We invoke upon you the grace of the Holy Spirit who renews
the face of the earth. With gratitude in our hearts we ask the intercession
of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, to obtain for us a renewed land
and a converted people.”
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
Agony, are you the
other name of my country?
By Rev. EUTIQUIO 'Euly' B. BELIZAR, JR., SThD
March 8, 2006
"We are a
country in a state of suspended agony, both natural and man-made..."
I had just checked into my
room after the 5:15 PM Mass at the Borongan Cathedral when, turning on
the television for the evening news, I noticed an unusual thing. Images of a
woman and a little girl covered with mud and being carried away to safety
flashed onscreen together with faces of survivors still in various degrees
of shock and disbelief. When I heard about Guinsaugon, St. Bernard,
I remembered faces of young priests who were my former students at St. John
the Evangelist School from the Diocese of Maasin to which the area belongs.
In a flash I thought of suggesting to my own bishop and to the cathedral
team ministry a second collection on that weekend for the landslide tragedy
in Guinsaugon, Southern Leyte as well as to the less noticed occurrences of the same
kind in Davao or even in far Zamboanga. I couldn't help saying to
myself: Here we go again, my beloved calamity-ridden country! Why does
tragedy pursue you no end?
But, of course, it is so
plain to see how tragedy brings out the best in the Filipino, too.
Everywhere I went people were asking what they could do and that there be
second collections in our Sunday Masses for the victims. In Alabang's (no,
not the rich Alabang but the original and still mostly urban poor) San Roque
Parish the pastor, a friend, told me how surprised he was that their
collections for the Southern Leyte victims rose to more than three times the
average. And it never fails to amaze me how generous Pinoys can be even
despite their poverty; literally the 'widow's mite' many times makes its way
to our collection plates. What's more Pinoys in different parts of the
global village have also organized their own compassionate responses to the
situation. You, dear reader, might have even done your own pitch your own
way. We take our hats off to you for that.
But no sooner had a
natural tragedy been dealt with than a man-made one struck us last February
24, 2006, a Friday, on the eve of the 20th commemoration of the Edsa 1
Peaceful People Power Revolt in the Philippines. The president, in words
that eerily reminded people of Proclamation 1081 that declared Martial Law
over the whole Philippines in 1972, also issued Proclamation 1017 putting
the country in a State of Emergency. She announced that the government just
foiled an attempted coup to topple down her presidency and that she was
commanding the whole Armed Forces of the Philippines to crush down all
rebellions and restore law and order wherever it is breached. I later found
out how so many of my countrymen asked, with me, the same question: If the
coup was foiled, why the need for a declaration of a state of emergency?
Wasn't the Cory Aquino presidency more fraught with actual coups de tat and
yet never even gave one thought to declaring a state of emergency? Ah, but
there are so many other legal, political or even economic reasons that are
readily invoked for the declaration. The government is in constant denial of
ever intending to suppress fundamental freedoms but its actions belie its
words. For example, news publications are under careful watch, congressional
representatives from party list groups are under threat of being arrested,
political rallies are not allowed in the capital.
I've been asked if 1017 is
moral. To be able to judge that we need to judge the intention of the
declaration (the real one, more than the declared one), the object of the
acts that come out of the declaration and the circumstances that surround
it. Since many of these things are not crystal clear, the next best thing is
to see what it actually does to the whole country, with emphasis on what it
does to people. Nothing is moral if it degrades and violates human life,
dignity and the inherent rights of the human person. Nothing is moral if it
threatens rather than enhance human freedom. Nothing is moral if it acts
against truth, justice and peace. Nothing is moral if it violates the
dictates of human conscience and makes a mockery of the real will of the
To date many of the
country's brilliant lawyers and intellectuals are debating the
constitutionality of Proclamation 1017. But what I find striking is what it
underlines about the state of our country in almost the same way that the
Southern Leyte landslide tragedy does: We are a country in a state of
suspended agony, both natural and man-made. Typhoons, torrential rains,
flash floods and other shades of La Nińa come hand in hand with forest
depletion, destructive mineral exploitations, excessive politicking, coup
conspiracies (real or imagined), summary killings and assassinations of
journalists and militant leaders. These seem a fair summary of the state of
today. And yet, one must ask: Why do we easily unite behind all efforts to
respond to natural disasters but just as easily part ways when confronting
man-made calamities in our political, socio-cultural and economic realities?
Despite Edsa along our streets, Edsa has still to settle in our hearts. And
until it does, Agony could go on being the other name of my country.
Let us be calm and be wise
By BART M. SAUCELO
March 6, 2006
"It is strange that the opposition allowed the enemy of the country
(Communists rebels) to be a part of their movement. It only
demonstrates their lack of concern for the welfare of the country and its
people and their lust for power as their main motivation."
The Philippines is a boat
that is sinking because of two holes at its bottom. The holes are caused by
corruption and poverty.
An attempt to patch one hole
by a violent and bloody means only makes the other hole bigger with its
deleterious effect on the economy of the country. It is even highly
doubtful that such attempt can effectively patch the hole of corruption as
the thrust of the opposition is targeted not towards removal of the rotten
political system but only to one person allegedly involved in it even if she
happens to be the president of the country. Furthermore, the opposition does
not have anybody good enough to dismantle the rotten political system once
GMA is gone which will mean just another musical chair for trapos
that might even be worse than GMA.
We are all aware of the fact
that one big reason for our poor economy is the flight of foreign capital
which has gone to our neighbors – Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Taiwan and China because of the unstable condition in our country.
Thus, extra constitutional
and bloody attempt to change leadership only makes us more unstable and
makes our already bad economy even worse. While the coup attempt was not
successful it already gave the message to the world that the Philippines is
not a place to invest in any business or even to live or visit. We will
therefore remain the sick man of
Asia. The additional reason why the coup attempt was not
popularly supported by the people is because of the kind of people behind
the former president – Estrada who is now in jail because of blatant
corruption and whose hope of getting out of jail depends on the downfall of
GMA. The people are afraid that this will happen if GMA is forced out of
office by the opposition.
FPJ’s wife and
supporters who want to make it appear that FPJ won the last election where
GMA is alleged to have cheated. Let us not forget that FPJ was a close
friend of former president Estrada who supported FPJ in the last election.
wealth and influence are apparently being utilized to support the attempt to
remove the president by force so they can have a share of the power and
influence if and when the opposition takes over the government.
4. The communists – NPA who rejoice when the country is in turmoil because
it would justify and encourage its continuing insurgency. It was not a
coincidence that red flags were highlighting the protest march that was
planned as a prelude to a coup d’etat. It is strange that the opposition
allowed the enemy of the country (Communists rebels) to be a part of their
movement. It only demonstrates their lack of concern for the welfare
of the country and its people and their lust for power as their main
army officers who are willing to be used by power hungry “trapos” who want
to grab power so they can continue to enjoy their “gold mine” in the
6. Cory Aquino
and her followers who want to protect the Luisita Hacienda by using her
wealth and influence. Of all people, Cory should know enough how coup
attempts devastate the economy, disrupt governance and hurt the country’s
credibility because she experienced it during her presidency.
patriotic people who are unwittingly serving the causes and agenda of the
above mentioned groups by siding with the opposition without considering the
deleterious effects on the economy. Going to the streets and cyberspace
shouting their disgust of GMA will not be enough to get rid of corruption
but certainly contributes to destabilization of the country and a big blow
to its economy.
Most of us share the outrage
and impatience of those demanding the resignation of GMA. But I believe the
majority who feel this way are also calm and wise enough to wait for
the right time and the right way to do it. We need to consider the
destabilizing effect of constant political bickering on the economy and on
the millions of our people who are already experiencing hunger and
malnutrition. The silent majority is not silent because we condone
corruption, GMA and the outrageous plundering of government funds. We are
just as outraged as our more vociferous brothers and sisters in search for
good governance. But we want to use a more sound strategy that does not
punish ourselves particularly the millions of our poor.
In the meantime let us be
calm and be wise. Let us concentrate our energy on helping the economy while
we keep searching for the suitable replacement to GMA. When the right
replacement comes along then we can all join behind him or her to take over
the leadership of our country with all our resources and with all our might.
While waiting for that time we need to repair or replace the Commission on
election. We need to establish mechanisms that will prevent manipulation of
election results. We need a lot more watchdogs to monitor the whole
But there are other reasons
why the nation was not anxious to support the opposition’s movement to
remove GMA by force right now:
1. At this time
the use of force is not necessary and certainly is not our “LAST RESORT”.
There are other options. We can terminate GMA’s rule in 2010 if not sooner
if there will be an election in 2007, which would be peaceful and
constitutional using the will of all Filipinos instead of only
the will of one or two thousand people in Manila and suburbs. If she still
clings to her leadership position at that time other than by honest and
clean election, then we will be justified to use the last resort.
This will also give us time to find a replacement that we can trust in
dismantling the rotten political system. Nobody really wants a
violent and bloody revolution. The world gave Filipinos the highest
admiration when we were able to kick out a dictator without bloodshed. With
her unpopularity we can get her out without bloodshed.
The people who
are behind the coup attempt do not really represent the whole nation. A few
disgruntled army officers encouraged by trapos and other members of the
opposition are dividing this country and causing more turmoil and
instability in the country. Many of those who participated in the protest
that was designed to start the coup d’e-tat were about 12 to 15 years old
some with no shoes as shown in the picture in the local papers in America.
Many of the participants were obviously imported and hired for their
participation. People from Mindanao and the Visayan islands were not
Thus, the use of force at
this time violates all the requirements of a “just war”. In fact, the doctrine of a just war requires that all
the stipulated conditions must be present. (See article, “Principles
of the “JUST WAR DOCTRINE” in
3. By not waiting
for the scheduled election a short time from now and ignoring the
deleterious effects of a violent attempt to remove GMA suggests that the
opposition has other agenda that others might unwittingly be supporting. One
obvious example is the NPA’s active participation in the coup attempt and
the stepped up insurgency following the attempted coup.
In fairness to
GMA who allegedly cheated in the last election, are we going to remove from
their respective offices many others who also cheated? Almost all Filipinos
know that cheating and corrupt practices in elections are common from the
president down to town mayors. Also, are we sure that the FPJ’s camp did not
also cheat? It is even suspicious that FPJ’s camp cheated considering the
vast gap between FPJ’s qualifications and those of GMA. Many observers
predicted that GMA would win with a wide margin in the last election. Yet,
it appears that GMA alone is going to pay for the crime that most of our
elected officials have committed.
By the way, GMA publicly
lamented the degeneration of our political system: “It has become such that
one cannot embark on a political career and expect to emerge from it with
clean hands”. She quoted the Bible – “He who is without sin cast the first
stone”. While this is an indirect admission of her participation in the
rotten political system it expresses her lament that could mean that her
conscience desires reform and reparation.
Let us therefore be careful
and wise so that in trying to patch the hole of corruption we are not making
the other hole of poverty bigger by driving foreign capital away. Let us
be careful and wise not to allow ourselves to be used by the opposition’s
own self-interests. Let us join hands in removing the rotten political
system instead of just one person in it. We need to spend more of our
energy and resources in repairing the hole of poverty while searching for
the right replacement to GMA.
We therefore invite you to
join the GLOBAL FILIPINOS FOR PROGRESS with its economic program of
“NON-VIOLENT REVOLUTION FOR A PROGRESSIVE PHILIPPINES”. (visit
http://globalfilipinosforprogress.org and read about the program under
the same title and the article: “HELP WANTED: A SUPERHERO FOR PRESIDENT”
and other related articles.)
End the State of Emergency
now and resign immediately!
A Statement by the
Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW)
March 2, 2006
We Filipinos, whether based
in many countries throughout the world, or at home in the Philippines will
always remember where we were when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a State
of Emergency on February 24, 2006. Just as we will always remember where we
stood in 1972 when Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial law.
Whether it is called
Proclamation 1017, or Proclamation 1081 (Marcos Martial Law decree), it
means the same for the Filipino people. It is a gross violation of people’s
rights; arrest and imprisonment without warrant; prohibition of public
assembly; violent dispersal of rallies; being bundled away in unmarked cars
and military troops deployed in public spaces and around TV stations.
The deep bitterness in all
this is that the 20th Anniversary of the Ouster of the Marcos dictatorship
is the moment chosen by Arroyo and her government to declare Proclamation
1017. The outstanding achievement of the people’s struggle had been the
ending of the Marcos dictatorship. GMA is showing her utter disregard for
the thousands who sacrificed their lives to ensure that the people would
regain their freedom and that we would never again experience martial law.
With this sweeping away of our freedoms and democracy, GMA is showing her
utter disregard for the peoples struggle and victory against dictatorship.
In these dark times we are
heartened by the many thousands who have come out to defy the government ban
and to protest this assault on our freedoms and democracy. We have been
inspired by the outpouring of protest against this outrageous act of
usurpation of power.
As Overseas Filipinos, we
add our voices to this growing protest even as we re-iterate that this
Proclamation of the State of
does not blind us to the fact that the resignation of GMA is long overdue.
We will spread our protest
among our migrant communities and ask the support of our co-migrants of
other nationalities as well as our host countries to bring our message to
their governments and peoples.
We demand your immediate
resignation as President even as we join our efforts with the democratic
movement and civil society to work for your ouster.
You have lost the trust of
the people – whether we live inside or outside the Philippines.
Oppose and Resist
Resign President Arroyo and
Long live the Filipino
The chutzpah of thick-skinned commissioners
By LUTGARDO B. BARBO
February 9, 2006
The stinging indictment of
the Supreme Court, the Senate and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the
Philippines against the Commission on Elections remains carelessly unheeded.
The siren calls for the resignation of the Comelec officials headed by Chair
Benjamin Abalos have fallen into hearing-impaired ears whose callous
insensitivity, and mischievous minds are wrapped around thick-skinned public
By stonewalling, they could
not, to paraphrase President Ramon Magasaysay’s dictum, defend this at Plaza
Miranda. These officials who have methodically stripped themselves of the
vestiges of respectability, decency, decorum and morality have lost the
faith and confidence of a concerned and aroused citizenry. Why? Because the
credibility of elections – honest, peaceful and orderly – the cornerstone of
the people’s faith in a democracy “has been put in jeopardy by the illegal
and gravely abusive acts of the Comelec.”
The Supreme Court ruled that Comelec was not only in
clear violation of law and jurisprudence but also in reckless disregard of
its own bidding rules and procedure. In the words of Senate Committee Report
No. 44 “[T]he COMELEC’s irresponsibility and dereliction of its
sworn duty to safeguard the sanctity of the electoral exercise is
staggering.” But the unrepentant Commissioners would stay put and not vacate
their posts. What barefaced shamelessness! And the chutzpah to hang on to
power, influence and notoriety! What brazen insolence!
In different climes, people
have been stoned to shame or even lined up against the wall to be summarily
dealt with, or disgracefully impeached, or at the very least, hauled off to
jail where they properly belong. In olden Japan, “hara-kiri,” which was
slitting one’s stomach, was regarded as a “great honor.” In “seppuku,” the
man sits before an admiring circle of friends and colleagues, at the crack
of dawn, facing the rising sun. He was allowed to write down a small
farewell poem. Then he accepts the inevitable and honorable death – by the
sword of a friend or colleague. This was regarded as an act of sincere
penance for a shameful conduct.
In this country, we have a
time-honored Filipino value known as “sense of delicadeza.” It used to be a
badge of honor for government officials. It is a sense of propriety on how
to act or behave in all circumstances in public or private. In essence, it
is etiquette or well-mannered conduct and a code of righteous behavior or
protocol. Besmirch the good name of a government official, or even hint a
misgiving or doubt about his integrity, or associate him with scandal or
abuse of power – whether true or not – and he would be ready to offer his
resignation rather than dishonor his family’s name and reputation or malign
the institution he was connected with.
In the face of the
Commissioners’ bungling of the multi billion automated counting machines on
taxpayers’ money, their refuge under the constitution becomes unavailing and
of no moment. Their disastrous handling of the last elections, all the more
makes them ineffectual, abortive, unproductive and untrustworthy.
What is so sacrosanct about
the Commissioners’ clinging to their posts? Is it to make amends and cushion
the impact of their plunderous deeds through Johnny-come-lately-Presidential
Adviser Hilario Davide? Is it their generous allowances, perks and
privileges, including the hefty retirement pay and other emoluments? Or is
it the hallucinogenic electoral power or the kaleidoscopic partisan
influence that goes with the job? Or the quid pro quo idea of payback in the
concept of “utang na loob”? Or, is it because the Commissioners can be
trusted to politically overlay – in concrete asphalt – the road map upon
which the rhythmical steps of Cha Cha will breeze through? That’s why I
signed up at
Tuesday, February 7, 2006.
[ Author was a 3-term Governor of Eastern Samar; was Senate
Secretary and Clerk of Senate Impeachment Court during the trial of
President Joseph “Erap” Estrada. He was also the Chief of Staff and General
Counsel of Senate Minority Leader Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. He worked
briefly as Undersecretary, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process. He is now a Faculty Member of the Ateneo School of Government,
Rockwell, Makati City
and a Guest Lecturer, UP National College of Public Administration and
Governance, Diliman, Q. C. Information Technology of the
et al v. COMELEC. et al, G. R. No. 159139, Jan. 13, 2004.
Dated 12 December 2005, and signed by 14 Senators.