Pabillo challenges mining firm to a public forum

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MANILA, August 13, 2013—Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo has accepted a proposed dialogue by a mining company on the issue of hotly contested Tampakan Mining Project in South Cotabato—on one condition—it should be open to the public and the media. 

Pabillo said he is agreeable to the proposal as long as it is transparently done. 

Saggitarius Mines Inc. (SMI), the local mining company that operates the Tampakan project in Southern Mindanao, has invited Pabillo to a dialogue in a letter sent on July 31. 

“I would like to accept your invitation with the condition that it will be done in a PUBLIC SPACE and that it will be OPEN to the PUBLIC and the MEDIA”, Pabillo, who also chairs the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, said in response.

SMI requested Pabillo, who is also the bishop convenor of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. – National Capital Region (PMPI-NCR) Urban Cluster, to engage in a dialogue with them with regards to their mining plans in Southern Mindanao. 

It may be recalled that Pabillo has spearheaded an online signature campaign urging President Benigno Aquino III to cancel the mining permits of SMI. 

But the mining company contended the arguments raised by Pabillo in his online petition which was started a few weeks ago to cancel the operation of supposedly the largest copper and gold mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato. 

The online campaign, which already drew in close to 10,000 individuals, was in support of the signature campaign initially launched by three Mindanao dioceses in 2011, led by Kidapawan Bishop Romulo dela Cruz, Marbel (Koronadal) Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, and Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable, to oppose the said mining project. 

The SMI Tampakan project includes the towns of Tampakan in South Cotabato which is under the Diocese of Marbel, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur which is within the jurisdiction of Digos Diocese, and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat which is within the area of Kidapawan Diocese. 

As of present, this campaign initiative of three dioceses already solicited more than 270,000 signatures and it was submitted to the Office of the President in Malacañang. 

Anti-mining advocates, led by the Catholic Church fiercely oppose the Tampakan project because of the magnitude of its negative impact on the environment and people`s livelihood if it becomes operational. (CBCPNews)

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