Bishop Narciso Abellana of Romblon on Wednesday visited Sibuyan Island residents who have been protesting a large-scale mining project, which the local clergy opposes.
Social media photos showed the bishop shedding tears while talking to demonstrators who have been blocking the entry of heaving trucks to the mining site since January 29.
Residents put up a human barricade at Sitio Bato, a village in the island’s town of San Fernando to protest the alleged illegal mining activities of Altai Philippines Mining Company.
Environmental groups claimed the mining firm failed to secure necessary mining permits and documents.
The clergy warned of ‘tragic consequences’ if the nickel mining project pushes through on the island, often referred to as the “Galapagos of Asia” because of its rich biodiversity and pristine remoteness from all the mainlands.
“Unchecked human activity will have its tragic consequences, running the risk of destroying nature, thus running the risk of destroying humanity,” the clergy said in a statement.
“Land is life. Water is life. We only have one world to live in. Let us protect the environment! Let us protect nature! No to mining!” they said.
The Romblon Diocesan Council of the Laity also issued a statement on Sunday deploring the continuous attempts of the mining company to mine the island.
The lay organization also criticized the government for “turning a deaf ear and permitted the corporation to reach our soil” despite strong public opposition.
“Together with all the people of good will in the Diocese who cry out against mining, we cry with one voice, stop mining in Sibuyan,” they said.
“As an expression of solidarity, we appeal to all the faithful to storm the heavens with our prayers, and provide every possible support to the people of Sibuyan who struggle for justice,” they added.