Landowners seek restraining order over Archbishop

restraining order

The Catholic archbishop of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, Archbishop Francesco Panfilo, says he is facing an application for a restraining order from three landowners in Pomio.

The restraining order application also applies to a New Zealand lawyer working for the church, Doug Tennent.

It comes after Panfilo and Tennent tried to assist other landowners at Pomio to renegotiate a Special Agricultural and Business Lease (SABL) with Malaysian multinational Rimbunan Hijau (RH).

Panfilo said the three landowners seeking the restraining order are close to RH.

He said he doesn’t yet know the basis for the restraining order.

“I am suspecting that they are doing this because this coming Friday I will go to Pomio to start my pastoral visit, and for sure in my pastoral visit there is one afternoon when I am supposed to meet the people and discuss the issues,” he said.

“So I don’t know if this is an attempt to restrain us from this.”

Some landowners, with help from the Catholic Church in Rabaul, have initiated legal action over the SABL being negotiated with RH.

Earlier this month Panfilo said they hoped the company would agree to mediation in Pomio rather than take court action.

He said if the company came to Pomio it would meet and hear directly from the landowners.

“The people of RH would be obliged to listen to the people because as of now I think they get the impression that [they are] doing everything all right and there are some people disgruntled.

“We are convinced that the majority of the people want a renegotiation of the SABL” he said.

In 2016 Panfilo was honoured by the government of Papua New Guinea for his outstanding contribution in pastoral care, leadership, education and technical training of the young.

He was given the title ‘Grand Companion of Order of Logohu’ which is the highest order in the honours system in Papua New Guinea.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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