South Cotabato bishop calls for veto of local open-pit mining law

June 3, 2022 - 3:35 PM
Bishop Cerilo Casicas of Marbel (front row, 3rd from right) joins a march towards the South Cotabato capitol building in Koronadal City to protest the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining in the province, June 1, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Clyde Jomoc/Sac Marbel via CBCP News)

A Catholic bishop is calling on South Cotabato’s top official to veto a measure allowing large-scale mining projects in the province.

Bishop Cerilo Casicas of Marbel joined a massive rally outside the capitol building in Koronadal City on Wednesday to protest the lifting of open-pit mining ban in the province.

The bishop particularly urged Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. to veto the local legislator’s controversial decision made a week after the elections.

The Marbel Diocesan Social Action Center claimed more than 10,000 people joined the demonstration, which started with a march from Christ the King Cathedral to the capitol.

“The people have spoken and this is the ultimate truth that you should consider as governor. To do otherwise, I may even say, you will be remiss in your duty,” Casicas said at the rally.

This was the second rally in two weeks after the provincial board on May 16 amended its environmental law, paving the way for a $5.9 billion copper-gold project.

Located in Tampakan town, the mine is said to be one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world.

The move was seen as a “slap in the face” for those who are campaigning for the environment and welfare of communities.

“We hope the governor will not do the same to us and listen to the voice of the majority of the people of South Cotabato, who are against the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining,” Casicas added.

Addressing the crowd, the prelate asked them to continue praying that their voices will be heard by their political leaders.

“Prayer is still our ultimate weapon,” he said.