On the 5th Anniversary of Laudato Si, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) implores the Filipino people to care for our common home and safeguard our planet from large-scale mining and development aggression. The encyclical letter from Pope Francis reminds us that our relationship with the environment is vital in our survival and that we are all interconnected. The emergence of new diseases is a fitting reminder of how important the environment is to our lives.
Various environmental groups and scientists have associated the emergence of the COVID-19 virus to the destruction of the environment. The destruction of vital ecosystems has led to increasing temperature, causing animals to change their behavioral patterns. These changes in behavior lead to mutations that contribute to the rise of new diseases such as COVID-19. This health and ecological crisis we are currently facing are of human roots, motivated by profit.
In the past two months, various mining companies continued to operate despite having areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). In the cases of Homonhon Island, Eastern Samar, Aroroy, Masbate, and in the CARAGA Region, mining companies continued to export and mine during the ECQ. Moreover, the government labeled mining as an essential industry that will be allowed to operate and export minerals when areas go to general community quarantine.
The mining industry in the Philippines is mainly export-oriented. Excessive amounts of minerals such as gold are mined and exploited by multinational companies to increase their bottom-line. These practices have intensified the destruction of the planet through deforestation and contamination of vital water sources with mine tailings. Their continued operations have caused the loss of the communities' source of livelihood and food. Allowing them to continue destroying our planet and the lives of vulnerable groups of societies for the sake of profit shall not continue. Our current situation calls on us to heed the call of our dying planet and vulnerable communities by examining our current lifestyles and relationship with the environment.
ATM calls on the government and the respective line agencies involved to listen to the local communities and put a stop to the continued operations of these large-scale mining companies. We implore this government to change its approach and policies on mining, accomplished through the passage of laws that people first before profits. Additionally, this government should take a community-based approach to aid mining-affected communities by ensuring their food security and livelihood during this time of crisis.
Let us work together in caring for our common home. Let us continue to seek accountability and transparency from our government to stop companies that continue to destroy our planet.