MVP severs ties with Ateneo over mining

Posted at 09/21/12 5:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) has cut his ties with the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) due to their opposing views on mining.

In a letter to Ateneo President Fr. Jet Villarin, SJ., the Philex Mining chairman said he is completely disengaging from the Ateneo over a so-called Jesuit Paper. The Jesuit Paper apparently makes a strong stand against mining, one of Pangilinan's key businesses in the country.
His letter was posted on Twitter by Philex vice president for business development Denis Lucindo.

"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," Pangilinan said, in the letter.

He said the Jesuit Paper reflects "ignorance" of Executive Order 79, which outlines the government's policy on mining and its implementing rules and regulations.

Pangilinan added the paper's position against mining runs contrary to Philippine laws and Constitution, as well as his own personal beliefs.

"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”)," he said.

"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."

Pangilinan, who graduated from Ateneo with a degree in economics, has been a staunch supporter of the university.

In 2010, Pangilinan resigned as chairman of the Ateneo Board of Trustees after a plagiarism scandal. A speech he delivered at the Ateneo graduation rites was found to have been lifted from previous speeches made by JK Rowling, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama.

Disagreements with CBCP

Pangilinan said he does not agree with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) stand versus mining, as well as the Catholic church's position on the Reproductive Health bill.

The CBCP has started a signature campaign calling for a moratorium on the implementation of the mining EO and the passage of an alternative mining law.

"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," he said.

Pangilinan also defended mining, saying its importance is enshrined in the Constitution. He noted that weak institutions, failed regulatory agencies and corrupt enforcement do not necessarily make the mining business evil, as suggested in the 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," he asked.

Pangilinan has made significant contributions to the Ateneo in recent years, including the Manuel V. Pangilinan Center for Student Leadership.