Caritas backs Senate probe into the impact of mining
by Santosh Digal

Senator Risa Hontiveros introduced a resolution ahead of Earth Day on 22 April.  “As stewards of the Earth, we have a moral imperative to protect our environment for future generations,” said Caritas vice president Bishop Alminaza.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Caritas Philippines has given its full support to Senate Resolution No. 989 filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros ahead of Earth Day next Sunday, on 22 April.

The motion calls for a comprehensive investigation into the environmental and social impact of mining activities across the country, an issue that has often seen the Philippine Church play a leading role.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, vice president of the social arm of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), stressed the need to address the harmful effects of mining activities on communities and ecosystems.

“As stewards of the Earth, we have a moral imperative to protect our environment for future generations,” Bishop Alminaza said. “Recent tragedies and environmental disruptions linked to mining and quarrying underscore the need for a thorough investigation.”

Senate Resolution 989 aligns with the principles outlined in the CBCP's 2015 statement, "Stewards, Not Owners," which emphasises the intergenerational responsibility to safeguard the environment, echoing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si'.

“Climate change is not just an environmental issue; it’s a social justice issue,” the prelate explained. “The plight of communities impacted by the negative effects of mining and quarrying cannot be ignored. Our actions today will shape the well-being of future generations.”

The proposed probe seeks to vet the regulations governing mining and quarrying operations, with a focus on strengthening environmental safeguards and ensuring a fair distribution of benefits among affected communities.

“As we approach Earth Day, we renew our commitment to advocate for sustainable and responsible management of our natural resources,” Bishop Alminaza noted. “Caritas Philippines stands firmly with Senator Risa Hontiveros and urges the Senate to prioritize the well-being of our environment and vulnerable communities.”

The resolution comes after a recent spate of incidents, including a tragic landslide in Maco (Davao de Oro) that claimed several lives and highlighted the dangers of unchecked mining.

Extensive mining operations on Homonhon Island have also sparked criticism for endangering the island’s biodiversity and residents’ livelihoods.