By SHERWIN DE VERA
CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur – In time for the Ecumenical Service against the proposed Gregorio del Pilar Impoundment Project in Salcedo, the head of the United Methodist Church (UMC) Ilocos South District publicized, through Facebook, their support to the people’s rejection of the project.
Reverend Joel Bengbeng, District Superintendent of the area, posted in his account on April 26 the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference (NWPAC) resolution calling to stop the construction of the dam. It was approved unanimously last April 17 in the town of Galimuyod, during the annual gathering of Methodists from the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan and Benguet.
The congregation said that their action is anchored on their purpose to “seek to remain responsive to the call of God to love Him and to love other people.” They emphasized that the government is responsible to ensure the “just and peaceful sharing” of the natural resources, and development “must be for everyone” and “respect basic human rights.”
“We have decided to proclaim what we believe in, what we are against, and what we call in relation to the proposed construction of a 100 meters dam in General Gregorio del Pilar,” states the document.
The NWPAC-UMC explained that they are opposing the project for its negative social and environmental impact. They cited flooding of communities, the hazard posed by the impounding structure being near a fault line, dwindling of fish stocks and restricted supply of water from the river.
Participants in the conference also agreed that compensation offered by the government can never be enough to “pay for identities and communities” that will be destroyed by the dam. They also warned of the possible use of “guns, goons and gold” to ensure that project’s implementation.
Towards the end of the document, the parishioners called for the “development and deployment of alternative sources of energy” and “implementation of community-based water management systems.”
Copies of the resolution will be forwarded to the Bishops of the UMC in the country, members and officers of the church and other concerned entities. Also included was the call to disseminate the content of the document through social media. # nordis.net