PomioRabaul (Agenzia Fides) - "The population of the West Pomio District did not take part in the decision-making process of the development project entrusted to the Malaysian Rimbunan Hijau multinational company, related to plantation of trees to produce palm oil. The lease between landowners and the company is valid for sixty years. But after six years, the majority of the people in West Pomio, without asking the company to leave, found negative effects at a social and environmental level. The population believes they have the right to be more involved, to minimize undesirable side effects. This requires the negotiation of a new lease to ensure appropriate protection for the local population and the environment. The aim is to promote a sustainable, long-term, economic, environmental and social project". This is what Archbishop Francesco Panfilo, at the head of the Archdiocese of Rabaul said, who is addressing the issue raised by the people of the West Pomio district in the archdiocesan territory (see Fides 14/6/2017). The issue, which is taking place today in the country's public debate, came to light after the expulsion of Doug Tennent, lay missionary from New Zealand, who acted as a close collaborator, lawyer and administrator in the Archdiocese of Rabaul, who was helping to follow the issue.
The Archbishop, directly involved in the defense of the local people, is now hoping for dialogue and collaboration between the parties in the interest of all, with the aim of promoting the common good and well-being of the future generations of West Pomio". This is why, Mgr. Panfilo urges the concerned Company, local representatives and government officials to "start a negotiating table in order to formulate a path of future development based on justice, equity and sustainability". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 20/6/2017)