MANILA, Philippines—A Catholic bishop has initiated an online petition urging President Benigno Aquino III to cancel permits allowing a mining company to operate the country’s largest copper and gold mining project in Tampakan town, South Cotabato province.
So far, the online petition that Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo started on Change.org has gathered more than 9,000 signatures.
“This proves that a great portion of the online community understands the dangers of mining, especially the one in Tampakan,” Pabillo said in a statement.
“Malacañang should stop the Tampakan mining project or at least answer our arguments against it,” he said.
In February, the controversial $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project of Swiss firm Xstrata and its local unit, Sagittarius Mining Inc., was granted an environmental compliance certificate, one of the requirements for operation.
The project was earlier halted after the adoption of a provincial ordinance that banned open-pit mining in South Cotabato.
In his petition, Pabillo, who heads the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action, cited several reasons why people should sign the petition and why the government must stop the project.
Pabillo pointed out that the mining project will displace 5,000 B’laans from their ancestral lands and destroy some 4,000 hectares of lush rain forest.
“[T]hat said, up to 800,000 trees will be cut, putting hundreds of towns at higher risk of flash floods and landslides,” he said.