Bishops step up campaign against mining

Bishops step up campaign against mining

Three senior Roman Catholic bishops on Wednesday stepped up their campaign against the mining industry, saying it destroyed both the environment and local communities.

”Mining in the Philippines not only destroys the environment but has become the vehicle for the violation of human rights, enthnocide of indigenous communities, and even deaths,” said Bishop Sergio Utleg as they launched ”Anti-Mining Solidarity Week.”

Utleg, chairman of a special commission on tribal communities of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, charged that encouraging mining investment in this impoverished country was a violation of human rights.

Bishop Ramon Villena added that only foreign and local investors were benefiting from the resurgence of the mining industry, which President Gloria Arroyo has been promoting.

Fellow Bishop Deogracias Iã±iguez said he hoped the anti-mining week would drum up support for opposition to the industry.

The mining industry, which employs about 141,000 people, has enjoyed a revival in recent months, thanks to the opening of the sector to foreign investment, a measure promoted by Arroyo.

The government is targeting $6.5 billion in total investment in mining from 2007 to 2011.

However the sector has also become a target of environmentalists and leftist activists including communist guerrillas who have attacked mining companies.

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