South Cotabato Catholic diocese requests dialog with government over mining ban


DAVAO CITY—The prelate of the Diocese of Marbel has called on South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo Jr. to hold a public dialogue on the Appellate Court decision that alleged it had overturned the province’s open pit mining ban.

In a letter dated March 16, Bishop Cerilo Allan U. Casicas of the Diocese of Marbel said the diocese “recently received information that the Court of Appeals has already rendered a decision on the appeal against the Koronadal Regional Trial Court’s upholding of the open-pit mining ban as a valid exercise of the police power by the province.”

“We respectfully request the governor’s good office to enlighten us on what their plan of action is regarding this decision,” Casicas said.

The diocese said that days after its request, “unverified photos of the first page of the CA decision appeared in various social media posts.”

The CA also ruled on August 22 last year that while it validated South Cotabato’s open pit mining ban, it said its application was limited to small-scale mining operations only.

The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) said the provincial government may still appeal the CA decision.

“This is not the end of the line for the open pit mining ban. Certainly the provincial government on behalf of their constituencies has the duty to appeal the CA decision precisely as the decision recognizes their police powers,” said lawyer Rolly Francis C. Peoro, direct legal services coordinator of LRC.

“The regulatory role granted to local governments is very much part of the national level of mineral and resource governance laws, and hence cannot be limited to just small-scale mining projects. Gov. Tamayo is in prime position to push back against this curtailment of the autonomy granted by the Local Government Code to local chief executives defending their constituents’ right to a balanced and healthful ecology,” Peoro added.

“Notwithstanding the pronouncement of the Court of Appeals, we remain firm with our stand that open-pit mining operations in South Cotabato pose a great risk to the integrity of the environment of our province and its neighbors. At stake are the health and livelihoods of many,” Casicas said.

“We trust that the Governor shall exert his best efforts to defend the rights of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology. It is of vital importance that the true meaning and heart of the ordinance is not in any way compromised or defeated,” Casicas added. -30-