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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bishop Raises Hell Against Mining

Virtually shaking heaven and earth to fight the exploitation of mineral resources in this province, Tandag Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar warned over the weekend of a catastrophic disaster should mining operations continue.
In his pastoral letter, Odchimar said “the integrity and creation of God must be protected” and every citizen must do his part in its protection.
Surigao del Sur, particularly in the northeastern side of the province, hosts of at least four large-scale mining operations which process and export mineral commodities particularly, nickel, copper, chrome, and iron.
In separate reports, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-13) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-13) have said that mining operations in Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and some parts of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur are now the major drivers of economic growth of Caraga region.
These two government agencies reported that mining operations already produce employment and livelihood to locals while already generating close to P2 billion in terms of revenues to local and national coffers.
However, the pastoral letter of Odchimar categorically opposed mining in Surigao del Sur province and called on Surigaonons to protect and defend the creation of God.
“It is our moral duty to protect the integrity and creation of God and defend the right of our people to food security, today and in the future generations,” he wrote.
The pastoral letter also cited the province as home of a biodiversity of endemic species of flora and fauna.

“Majority of our people heavily rely on farming and fishing, owing to the abundance of God’s gracious gift and creation,” the pastoral letter said, adding that these have been greatly disturbed because of mining operations.
The former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the seas and rivers in the province have increased in turbidity, reducing “in half” the marine productivity, because of the heavy siltation due to soil erosion and clogging irrigation system while pollution from dust particles has resulted in respiratory diseases.
“Mining, without doubt, directly threatens the life of our people. It’s social cost clearly outweighs the benefits. It’s effect is irreversible,” said the prelate.
At the same time, Odchimar appealed to Surigaonons to continue planting trees in preparation for the next generation, after the recent Mindanao TreeVolution activity.
“In his manifold wisdom and goodness, God created the beautiful world. He created man and made the steward of His creation. Creation provides for man’s subsistence while man treats it with awe, respect and gratitude,” he added.
It was recalled that the Diocese of Tandag issued a document in 2002 in which the “bishop and the clergy, representing the people of God in the province of Surigao del Sur”, made clear their “categorical opposition” to mining in the province.

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