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More than 1500 people joined the prayer assembly, which was held across the province (Facebook/Borongan Diocese)

The Church in the Philippines has held a prayer assembly to highlight the adverse impacts of mining on a historic, mineral-rich island in the archipelago. Source: UCA News.

The “Jericho prayer assembly” was organised by Borongan Diocese in Eastern Samar province in the Visayas region, along with Calbayog and Catarman dioceses, against ongoing mining operations on Homonhon island on January 20.

“A healthy environment is of a higher value than any amount of money,” Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez said in his homily during the Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. His diocese has jurisdiction over Homonhon island.

More than 1500 people joined the prayer assembly which was held across the province.

Bishop Varquez reiterated his strong opposition to mining in Homonhon and Manicani in Eastern Samar province.

The ongoing mining activities in Homonhon have been a bone of contention between environmental groups and mining firms.

Facing the Pacific Ocean, the 20-kilometre-long island is home to more than 4400 residents.

It is known for the landing place of Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, who circumnavigated the world under the Spanish flag in 1521, and eventually led to the Christianisation of the Philippines.

Two firms are mining chromite in Homonhon under a 25-year pact approved in 2009. Apart from chromite, the island is also rich in nickel.

The Church has been objecting to mining on the island due to its adverse impacts; however, the government has ignored its demands.

In a statement on January 20, Caritas Philippines condemned the mining “practices that prioritise profit over the wellbeing of individuals and the ecosystem”.

“We raise our voices in prayer, imploring the government to listen to the cries for climate justice,” said Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, vice-president of Caritas Philippines.

Fr Antonio Labiao Jr., executive director of Caritas Philippines, noted that Homonhon island’s fragile ecosystem “cannot withstand the onslaught of unsustainable mining practices”.

“We implore the world to stand with us in demanding an end to mining in our archipelago,” Fr Labio said.


Philippine Church holds prayer assembly against mining (By Ronald O. Reyes, UCA News)