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Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Philex Mining Corporation and the PLDT Group, has signaled a parting of ways with Ateneo de Manila University over what he called the "Jesuit Paper", a document that, to Pangilinan, ultimately suggested "irreconcilable" differences between himself, his companies, and the principles and positions of the Jesuit university.
Specifically, Pangilinan saw the Jesuit Paper – passed on to him on Sunday by Fr. Jojo Magadia, SJ, the Philippine Provincial of the Society of Jesus – as proof of that "we have little or no common interest, and to say that I'd look like a fool helping an institution which opposes my conviction diametrically and unequivocally."
The Jesuit Paper that Pangilinan was referring to is titled, "The Golden Mean in Mining: Talking Points" and was written by the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate (SJSA), Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.
Posted on the website of the John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues (JJCICSI), the document presents itself as a structure of "talking points" outlined by the SJSA for its members to identify "non-negotiables" - values and bottom line positions - that would potentially serve as a guide for its members and other organizations on the issue of mining.
The 9-page document cited the following Catholic principles and applied them to mining:
The article then called the Aquino administration's mining EO, Executive Order No. 79, a "mixed bag".
"It is not perfect but it contains good provisions which, if implemented, would make mining operations more responsible," it said. "We should work to implement these good provisions and to hold government accountable for its realization. At the same time, certain provisions in EO 79 assume that the Mining Act of 1995 establishes the right paradigm for mining in the Philippines. We should reject those provisions and work to have them changed."
The paper then pointed out provisions in the EO that should be "revisited" and "changed" as the provision that "unconditionally exempts current mining agreements and operations from the application of the new policies on no-go areas and revenue distribution needs to be qualified."
“Such exemption should have been done on a case-to-basis where justified by the non-impairment of contracts clause of the Constitution and where the company involved has a good environmental and social record," it said.
It also pointed out that the provision that mandates consistency between national policy and local legislation was "problematic," adding this could possibly "dampen" initiatives of LGUs in their own areas of jurisdiction.
"More than specific provisions, the reason why EO 79 is inadequate is its failure to question the paradigm that animated the mining act of 1995," it continued. "This paradigm has the following elements: (a) Our minerals are there to be utilized and exploited; (b) Largescale mining is the preferred approach for that utilization and exploitation; (c) Mining companies, including foreign ones, are encouraged with incentives to invest in the Philippines. At best, under this paradigm, the environmental and social costs of mining are underemphasized if not altogether ignored."
Pangilinan, in his letter to Ateneo President Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, expressed his concerns. Among other things, he expressed discomfort over the talking points' premise that environmental impact can and should be avoided at all costs. But, Pangilinan said, while humans can and should attempt to mitigate, the fact remains that "every human attempt at progress I dare say will have some impact 'at the expense of the environment' – even the building and maintenance of places of worship and of education. There should be no debate here, correct?"
He stressed that "the importance of mining – expressed in the development of natural wealth and national patrimony – is enshrined in our Constitution. That value as a tool for national progress is expressed in the Mining Act. For the Church to say otherwise contradicts a very basic document of our people and frustrates the people’s constitutional will, values, and preference – plus the right to improve economic welfare – 'to use these talents and multiply them, not bury them' – to use your own words."
He continued: "Correlatively, I’ve always firmly believed precisely in that Biblical dictum on talents – be they tangible or intangible – to improve lives. Failure to manage one’s affairs – such as weak institutions, failed regulatory agencies, corrupt enforcements – do not mean a particular business is per se evil, as suggested about mining in that Jesuit Paper. It is man’s frailty – Filipino frailty to be exact – that should be blamed, not the business. I’ve already pointed out the examples of good mining practices elsewhere. Indeed, the Filipino’s failure to manage well is shown in almost all facets of our lives – poor airports, poor sewerage, unclean air, mediocre economic growth. The list is long. Our preponderant task as a people is simply to do better – to strive for excellence. Isn’t that the Ateneo motto?"
Even as the Jesuit paper presents itself as an outline of "talking points", Pangilinan said "the Jesuit Paper reflects in parts, ignorance of the terms of EO79 and the Implementing Rules and Regulations.”
"The ultimate questions for me," Pangilinan said in his letter to Villarin, "are: (i) Do the EO/IRR violate existing laws and the Constitution? (ii) Do they violate the call for preferential use of land and resources for mining, for purposes of agriculture, tourism, or what have you – preferential rights articulated and protected by our Constitution?"
He continued: "In any event, to the extent that the terms of the Paper are non-negotiable, and do run contrary to what our laws and Constitution say and to what I believe in – that any business, even mining, can be made to serve man and God provided it is managed well and responsibly - this makes it difficult for my conscience to accept the Paper as currently drafted."
Pangilinan said that given his reading of the talking points, "it is best and appropriate to draw the line in the sand, to conclude that we have little or no common interest, and to say that I'd look like a fool helping an institution which opposes my conviction diametrically and unequivocally ('non-negotiable')."
"The logical consequences of this," he concluded, "are: (i) each of us can pursue our advocacies freely without having to be sensitive with regard each other’s feelings; (ii) my complete and total disengagement from the Ateneo – something which, after reflection, I must confess I welcome with some relief at this stage."
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