Christian Churches in the Philippines called on the government this week to heed the “cry of the poor and the earth” and to stop so-called destructive projects.
In a statement, the country’s major Christian groups expressed opposition to dam projects and the recent lifting by the government of the ban on new mining agreements.
“Scientists and experts have pointed out that construction of large dams and extractive industries like mining are indeed major causes of ecological destruction,” read the groups’ statement.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches released the joint pronouncement on Sunday, May 16, the start of the observance of Laudato Si’ Week.
They said dams and mining operations have contributed to climate change that brought about deadly diseases like COVID-19.
The church leaders cited the construction of the US$226.4-million New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project on the main island of Luzon, which supposedly threatens the country’s forest ecosystem.
In April, President Rodrigo Duterte lifted a ban on issuing licenses for new mining operations in the country, a decision described as an “about-face” from his previous anti-mining stance.
Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said the lifting of the mining moratorium will result in the entry of more destructive extraction projects.
“The approval of the existing 291 filed mining applications alone would mean more devastated mountains and forests,” he said, adding that the benefit from large-scale mining is “short-term” and “is not commensurate with long-term destruction.”
Laudato Si’ Week 2021 begins May 16 and runs until May 25. The time frame coincides with the date, May 24, 2015, when Pope Francis signed his first solo encyclical and the first-ever papal document centered on the environment.