Daily struggle for missionaries versus mining company

November 10, 2010

An ongoing crisis in the Philippines in which Columban missionaries have been consistent in standing by the people is shining a light on the disturbance of a biodiverse region in the country.

Mass at the picket in Guinabot October 30, last Saturday of the month. With group from the parishes of Tabina, Pitogo, in Midsalip and Guinabot. Some of the people from Pitogo left their homes at 3 am to walk to the town and get a truck to go to Midsalip and be there at 9 am.

Geotechniques and Mining, Inc. (GAMI) has brought in mining exploration equipment to a mine in the Mt. Sugarloaf area of Zamboanga del Sur in the Diocese of Pagadian.

It is a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA#120) and should not be open to any exploration for mining, according to a court ruling. Over 500 Catholic parishioners in the area have been holding a peaceful picket of the mining exploration for almost a month.

Columban missionaries have served alongside our brothers and sisters in the Philippines for over 80 years, and we are intimately aware of the conditions in the country. Fr. Frank Nally, SSC, is playing a leading role in the Working Group on Mining in the Philippines, outlining the government’s abuse of the environment in its aggressive promotion of the extractive industries.

On October 19, the peaceful picketers were met with harassment from the mine drilling machine operator and his supervisor.

Since then, GAMI has continued its effort to defy a court order while another court considers an appeal. Below are recent photos from the scene.