A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines criticized the decision of the provincial council of South Cotabato to endorse a coal mining project in the village of Ned in the town of Lake Sebu.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, national director of Caritas Philippines, described the project as a “ticking time bomb” to communities and the environment.
On December 6, the provincial council endorsed the coal mining project of San Miguel Corporation’s Daguma Agro-Minerals Incorporated, Sultan Energy Philippines Corp, and Bonanza Energy Resources Inc. in the area.
The project, under the coal operating contracts of the mining companies, covers at least 9,000 hectares of land.
Bishop Bagaforo said the decision of the provincial government contradicted its previous commitment to protect the environment.
He said the entry of coal mining operations in Lake Sebu “will greatly affect the lives of the people, especially the indigenous communities” and will destroy the town’s tourism industry and agriculture.
In a resolution, the provincial council told mining proponents to use “strip mining with progressive rehabilitation” instead of the open-pit mining method.
The council’s decision was a complete turnaround from its decision in June 2018 denying the approval of a resolution seeking to endorse the project.
Opposition to the resolution argued that the strip mining method is considered as open-pit mining and is violative of the province’s environment code.
Bishop Cerilo Casicas of Marbel urged the provincial council to understand the data about the project before rendering any decision. The prelate said he is against coal mining in Lake Sebu because it will “destroy the environment.”