09/17/2022, 12.54
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Marbel diocese celebrates 'victory' in stopping mining project

The Tampakan government revoked the permits of the Sagittarius Mines, Inc. The statement regarding "activities" revealed "fraud and misrepresentation." At the center of the controversy is a nearly six billion dollar gold and copper quarry. Today hundreds of activists and volunteers gather to clean up Manila Bay. 





Manila (AsiaNews) - The Diocese of Marbel in the southern Philippines is celebrating yesterday's decision by the government of Tampakan (South Cotabato) to revoke mining permits from a mining company operating in the area.

Fr. Jerome Millanm director of the diocesan Center for Social Activities, stresses to CbcpNews that this is "another victory" in the battle waged against Sagittarius Mines, Inc. whose activities worry local Catholics and environmentalists. "We applaud the government," he added, "for this move, which we consider extremely positive." 

Tampakan Mayor Leonard Escobillo led the case for the licence revocation claiming the company was guilty of "fraud and misrepresentation." Lies and falsehoods, designed to conceal the true nature and purpose of the work, were revealed in the declaration regarding "the activities" conducted. In the register it appears as a contractor in the engineering sector, but in the disputed area it wanted to operate as a mineral explorer and extractor. 

At the center of the dispute is the Tampakan gold and copper quarry, a nearly six-billion-euro operation covering some 10,000 hectares of land and spanning four provinces in Mindanao, including South Cotabato itself. Within it would be one of the largest deposits-still unexplored-of gold and copper not only in Southeast Asia, but in the entire world. According to estimates, when fully operational it could provide an average production of 375 thousand tons of copper and up to 360 thousand ounces of gold. At the cost of serious repercussions for the surrounding environment and the health of citizens. 

Environmentalist Yoly Esguerra, of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (Pmpi), applauds the government authorities' decision, which he calls a step forward in guaranteeing a better future for citizens and a healthy ecology.

"Uncovering the deception of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (Smi) and decisively challenging it by revoking its business permit," he adds, "shows that Mayor Leonard Escobilla supports transparency in governance."

Meanwhile, still on the environmental front, hundreds of people gathered on the shores of Manila Bay in the capital today to celebrate International Coastal Cleanup Day. Volunteers and government employees, including Coast Guard personnel, collected plastic bags, rubber slippers and other non-biodegradable waste abandoned in the bay, a 60-kilometer semi-enclosed estuary facing the South China Sea.

The waters of Manila Bay, famous for its sunsets, are heavily polluted by oil, grease and garbage from nearby residential areas and ports. "This initiative will help improve our coastal area," 18-year-old student Kendrick Lopez tells Reuters, "so that tourists and visitors can see the beauty of the bay."

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