BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya- Bayombong Diocese Bishop Emeritus Ramon Villena expressed jubilation and support to Environment Secretary Regina Lopez and Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla for taking a stand against the ongoing exploration and expansion of an Australian mining firm in Didipio, Kasibu town here.
Villena’s reaction came after the recent pronouncements made by Lopez to cancel OceanaGold Philippines Incorporated’s (OGPI) extension of its exploration permit.
Villena, whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction covers Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces hosting two foreign large-scale mining firms, said he is “joyous” about the stance of Lopez and Padilla against mining.
“I am in great joy for the cancellation of OceanaGold’s extension of exploration. For years, I have been a strong advocate and still am against mining,” Villena said.
The bishop said Lopez should also investigate the operations of British miner FCF Minerals Corp. in the village of Runruno in Quezon town in the province.
Villena has led the Diocese and has always been a hard-hitting advocate against the conduct of large-scale mining in Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya for more than two decades.
He has consistently called on presidents to revoke the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) which allowed OceanaGold in Kasibu and FCF Minerals in Quezon to conduct large-scale operations which he said are “detrimental to peoples’ lives both socially and spiritually.”
“Listen to your people in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino as you have always said (that) the people are your bosses,” Villena said in his homilies and statements over the radio during the Aquino administration.
Recently, Padilla with wife former Governor Ruth Padilla, provincial planning development office chief Edgardo Sabado and Didipio anti-mining activists have meet with Lopez in a dialogue at Rockwell, Makati City to air their sufferings as a result of the mining operation and exploration in the province.
The groups included the Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association (DESAMA), Salakniban ti Lubong Ken Aglawlaw Dagiti Umili iti Nueva Vizcaya (SALAKNIB) and Alyansa ng Mangagawa at Magsasaka ng Kasibu (AMMKAS) and the Alyansa Tigil Mina and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
During the dialogue, Lopez said that she will cancel the renewal of the mining exploration permit issued to OceanaGold in March saying, “I promise I will not let you suffer anymore.”
Meanhile, Lopez then ordered the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno to review OceanaGold’s recently renewed exploration permit under its FTAA. Leander Domingo/TNF

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