Marist Brothers’ Call: Uphold Ban on Open-Pit Mining in South Cotabato
The Marist Brothers of the East Asia Province has recently released a statement of support and solidarity in upholding the ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato. Citing issues of forest denudation, degradation of the ecosystem, erosion and siltation, threat to water resources, and lack of rules and regulations together with weak enforcement of laws among others, the statement calls out, “NO TO OPEN PIT MINING IN SOUTH COTABATO PROVINCE.” An digital copy of the statement can be downloaded here.
The following is the text of the statement:
STATEMENT OF SUPPORT AND SOLIDARITY IN UPHOLDING THE BAN ON OPEN-PIT MINING IN SOUTH COTABATO PROVINCE
“For everything created by God is good and nothing to be rejected if it is received with GRATITUDE.” (1 Timothy 4.4)
We, the Marist Brothers and the Lay Mission Partners of the Philippine Sector – East Asia Province, express our support and manifest our solidarity with the people of South Cotabato Province and the Diocese of Marbel in opposing the move of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to amend Sec. 22(b) of the Environment Code to the effect of allowing all forms of mining in the province, including open-pit mining.
The Marist Brothers, living the charism of St. Marcellin Champagnat, has been in the mission of educating the minds and hearts of the young to become “good Christians” and “virtuous citizens”. The Brothers and our Mission Partners are called “to be beacons of hope in this turbulent world” and “to inspire creativity to be bridge-builders as we journey with children and young people”. We are also called “to respond boldly to emerging needs” and these are now put into test with the current issue that the Province of South Cotabato faces, such that mining, in all of its forms, including open-pit mining, is soon to be allowed if the Sangguniang Panlalawigan amends the Province’s Environment Code, specifically Section 22(b) thereof, anchoring, accordingly, on the economic benefits that it shall usher in to the locality
We are not against development nor against the programs of government that will alleviate the poor from their sufferings and miseries due to poverty. We don’t question the rights of our legislators to enact laws and ordinances and deny them of their police powers to implement the laws and ordinances they have promulgated. But we expect our legislators to be fair and just; to exercise care and due diligence in determining the facts; to listen to reasons and be attentive to details for the “devil is in the details”.
We understand that before any amendment is introduced to any piece of legislation, a TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP is supposed to study, provide the technical expertise, to have their reports validated and to recommend to the appropriate COMMITTEE for its further deliberation prior to the approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during its plenary session. We now raise the issue whether the TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP made a thorough study of the plans, the implications and long-term effects of allowing open pit mining method in the Province of South Cotabato. And if ever there was a study of the TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP, are their reports made public for the sake of transparency and goodwill?
On matters relating to the impact of mining, directly or indirectly, to the environment, we conscientiously assert the following:
- Denudation of the forest and degradation of the ecosystem.
- High rate of erosion and siltation.
- Weak management of water resources.
- Threatened Wetland Biodiversity.
- Increasing occurrence and worsening effects of floods and risk from other natural hazards.
- High incidence of poverty in the mining area.
- Inadequate access to basic social and cultural sensitivity
- Problems of lack of rules and regulations and weak enforcement of laws
Unless, these concerns and problems are addressed, we have our doubts whether government can properly monitor/supervise, regulate, penalize future mining operations if it has failed in the past and continue to fail in the present. We cannot afford another disaster to happen which will cause unrepairable damages to lives and properties.
Finally, we agree and join with the position of the Diocese of Marbel saying: OUR TRUE WEALTH LIES IN THE LIFE-GIVING POWER OF NATURE AND WE RECOGNIZE THE RIGHTS OF NATURE AND THE BENEFITS THAT COME WITH THE PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE NATURAL RESOURCES.
In so, we say: NO TO OPEN PIT MINING IN SOUTH COTABATO PROVINCE. We join hands in “healing our land” for our land is our LIFE, CULTURE AND THE FUTURE OF THE NEXT GENERATION!!!
BR. DOMINADOR SANTIAGO, FMS
Provincial, East Asia Province