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Friday, September 30, 2016
Filipino bishop visits London to challenge mining companies
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¬†The problems that mining companies ≠ some with London headquarters ≠ are causing in the Philippines will be highlighted during a forthcoming visit to London of a senior Catholic bishop, based on the southern island of Mindanao. Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel will be speaking at a public meeting in parliament on the morning of Monday 17 September. The meeting will be chaired by Clare Short MP who led a fact-finding delegation to the country in July 2006 to examine the impact of destructive mining practices on poor communities and the environment. The Chair of the Justice and Peace Commission of the powerful Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines, Bishop Gutierrez will speak about the controversial promotion of mining by the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Gutierrez's diocese covers the province of South Cotabato. The mining application covers land in his diocese. In May this year, the Catholic bishops of Mindanao, including Bishop Gutierrez, joined forces to stop the open-pit copper and gold mining operation of Xstrata, an Anglo-Swiss company. The bishops led some 8,000 protesters who staged a rally in front of the mining office in Tampakan town, and reiterated their call for the repeal of the 1995 Mining Act, which opened the country up to foreign mining companies. The township of Tampakan is located approximately 50km north of General Santos, a major centre for regional agriculture and aquaculture. It boasts one of the largest tuna fishing ports in the world and has an annual Tuna Festival. The mining companies maintain that they are bringing development to the area. Bishop Gutierrez, however, is unconvinced. "We all know that these areas are producing all kinds of crops. So this will be affected. It will also result to destruction of coral reefs and the displacement of indigenous people, particularly the B'laan and Manobo tribes," he says. Also speaking at the parliament meeting on 17 September will be Bishop Christopher Toohey of the Catholic Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, Australia and the Chair of Catholic Earthcare Australia. This organization was founded by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference in 2002, mandated to give leadership in responding to Pope John Paul II 's call for an "ecological conversion" of the world's Catholics. Bishop Toohey recently gave a speech at a Vatican conference on climate change. Source: Columbans
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