The Diocese of Borongan will gather stakeholders next month in a dialogue to discuss the ecological crisis and the large-scale mining operations in the area.
Father James Abella, director of the diocesan social action center, said the summit aims “to consolidate the community and the concerned sectors” against destructive extraction of minerals.
“We’ll not just talk about the impacts of mining but we also would like people attending the summit to commit against it,” said the priest.
The environmental summit will be held on Homonhon Island, a 20-kilometer-long island in the municipality of Guiuan, on November 5.
Father Abella said the position of the Church against large-scale mining operations in the region “has not changed.”
For years, the island of Homonhon has been a battleground between residents and mining companies over environmental protection.
In April 2020, residents of the island denounced the continuous operation of a mining firm despite the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau has earlier approved the loading of chromite ore on a China-bound ship on the island.
In a pastoral letter issued in April this year, Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan said there is no history of responsible mining in the region, adding that “local experience provides enough evidence.”
The prelate said Homonhon Island is host to mining operations for 40 years “yet our people there have remained poor or grown even poorer.”
“Trees have been burned down. The whole ecosystem has been adversely affected. The island is greatly denuded. Sources of potable water have been near-depleted,” said the prelate.
The prelate said the mining industry has caused grave social impacts, including division among the people in Homonhon.
Father Abella said the island is a historical site because it is where Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first landed on March 17, 1521.
“The country must protect it from destructive activities,” said the priest.
The island of Homonhon was also one of the worst hit by super typhoon Haiyan that hit the country in 2013.
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