for the attention primarily of my Ateneo Alumni Friends, the full text of MVP's letter to Fr. Jett Villarin with the subject "Jesuit Paper." Posted with the author's permission:

I note your email of 21st September.

I read last night the Jesuit Paper which Fr Jojo handed to me last Sunday, and have come to the conclusion that this document, as drafted, is irreconcilable with our corporate position on mining and for me, more importantly, my conviction as a Filipino.

Let me just highlight a few of my major concerns – by all means not complete or exhaustive:

1. I do not agree with some of the CBCP’s pronouncements, including its recent stance on the RH Bill. At times, I believe the CBCP has taken positions contrary to the interest of our country. It should earn its rightful place in the national debating table by showing tangibly and significantly its concern for the poor and the corrupt, and sharing the burden with business and government the enormous task of nation-building – including the appropriate moral formation of our people and our leaders.

2. 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.

3. 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?

4. As to the Church’s duty towards creation and human ecology, I submit that it is our first duty to understand its origins and workings truly. This means subscribing to, and encouraging, relentless scientific study of the universe and planet Earth – hardly a matter which the Church persecutors of Galileo can be proud of. 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?

5. The Jesuit Paper reflects in parts, ignorance of the terms of EO79 and the Implementing Rules and Regulations. We should leave that to another paper to dissect. The ultimate questions for me 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?

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.

I must say that I am extremely distressed and saddened by this recent event. And in the context of two other gruesome incidents (i.e., plagiarism and the first mining blow-up) in the recent past, I believe we have come to the irretrievable point where 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 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.

Time to call it a day.


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