Climate and Environment

'Very alarming': Bishop asks gov't to act on mining ops in Homonhon

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'Very alarming': Bishop asks gov't to act on mining ops in Homonhon
Satellite image shows Homonhon Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
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MANILA, Philippines — A Catholic bishop called on the government to take action on the mining operations on Homonhon Island in Eastern Samar, saying the impacts of mineral extraction to people and the environment are worrying.

In a statement, Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan said the diocese is “very much disturbed” by escalating mining activities on Homonhon Island in Guiuan town.

“At present, there are four active mining companies operating on the island. Their immediate and negative effects on the communities and the natural environment are very alarming,” Varquez said.

“We call on our government leaders and concerned agencies to take action on this matter,” he added.

Nickel and chromite are abundant in Homonhon, the area where Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew first set foot on Philippine soil 500 years ago.

Jaybee Garganera, coordinator of anti-mining coalition Alyansa Tigil Mina, said in a message to Philstar.com that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should dispatch a fact-finding team to the islands of Homonhon and Manicani to determine the extent of mining’s impacts in the area.

Garganera also called on authorities to disclose audit reports of mining companies and hold a multi-stakeholder dialogue in Eastern Samar involving mining-affected communities, mining firms, local government officials, DENR representatives and religious leaders.

The regional and central offices of Mines and Geosciences Bureau have yet to respond to Philstar.com queries.

Citing Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone, the Philippine News Agency reported that mining firms Techiron Resources, Inc., Emir Mineral Resources Corp., King Resources Mining Corp. and Global Min-met Resources, Inc. are operating in Homonhon.

Revitalizing the mining sector — even though the industry only accounts for less than one percent of the country’s gross domestic product — is a priority of the Marcos administration.

Early this year, residents of Sibuyan Island and Brooke’s Point in Palawan set up barricades to stop mining activities that threaten their livelihoods and the environment. 

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