MANILA, Oct. 3, 2014— A Catholic bishop and his clergy are calling for increased transparency regarding the revenue and the activities of mining companies in Surigao del Sur province in east Mindanao.
Fr. Emmanuel Dumadag, president of Tandag diocese’s clergy, said mining firms should be open for scrutiny by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
EITI is a coalition of governments, companies and civil society working together to ensure transparency in the revenue collected from the mining industries and foster its proper use.
In the Philippines, civil society group Bantay Kita is spearheading the move to make the country part of the coalition.
“…We challenge the mining industry to subject all its operators and members under the terms of this monitoring institution,” Dumadag said in a statement issued Sept. 10.
The priest’s statement was also approved and signed by Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“Indeed, if mining industry will truly be valuable, then it must first be beneficial to the people to whom the minerals belong,” Dumadag said.
“If mining is inevitable, let it bring peace, justice and development to the people, both today and tomorrow, as a sign of its real progress,” he added.
The clergy also reiterated strong opposition against mining and their concern over the risk it posed to the communities where most of the people rely on farming and fishing as their livelihood.
“What will be left for the next generations? Where can they access safe water? How can they fish and farm when everything is destroyed already in the name of the present-day profit? What happens to the gift of God’s creation for all?” he also said.
“In solidarity with other mining-affected communities in our country, we cringe as we foresee extreme difficulties ahead if the current mining continues to operate in our province,” said Dumadag.
The priest also said that the supposed benefits of mining – jobs and local revenues – are only temporary compared to its “irreversible” impact to the environment and the affected communities.
“Its social cost clearly outweighs the benefits it outwittingly preaches. The damage is immediate and fast. Its effect is irreversible,” Dumadag said.
He added: “The ones who benefit the most are not the people but the very few capitalists”. (CBCPNews)