By ALDWIN QUITASOL with reports from PIA Cagayan
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan — The archbishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Tuguegarao has called on churchgoers and the faithful to take a stand against mining activities in the province.
In the pastoral letter of Archbishop Sergio L. Utleg, D.D., he urged the parishioners to conduct campaigns to discuss the ill effects of irresponsible mining activities along the Cagayan River which have been continuously under protested by the communities of Cagayan.
Utleg said that in view of the unabated mining activities that had adversely affected the lives of the people especially the poor, it is deemed necessary to issue a pastoral letter to help the faithful to see, judge and act in order to stop mining in their beloved land. “Let us act together to protect the integrity of creation in the context of faith. We must struggle to stop irresponsible mining because as Christians, we believe that we are stewards of God’s creation.,” the archbishop stated.
Cagayanons have signified their opposition on the mining activities with the fear that removal of the black sand in seashores and riverbeds may induce more damage to residents during calamities. It has been reported that black sand or iron ore mining is now being permitted by local government units in the coastal municipalities of Gonzaga, Aparri, Camaliugan, Gattaran, Lallo and Buguey.
Utleg said that such mining activities are happening because the provincial government and the local government units (LGUs) are allowing mining companies to operate in exchange for short term benefits. He further stated that many people are already suffering the disastrous effects of these mining activities. According to him, some have experienced displacement from their lands while others have lost their sources of livelihood and still others have been physically threatened and maltreated because of their opposition to mining in their localities.
Utleg cited the pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) 20 years ago regarding Philippine environment stressing that the country is in peril. The CBCP letter stated that all the living systems on land and in the seas are being ruthlessly exploited. “The damage to date is extensive and sad to say, often irreversible.,” Utleg added.
He said that the people especially the poor are crying out for help to stop the irresponsible mining. Utleg again cited the CBCP pastoral letter in 2008 entitled “Upholding the Sanctity of Life” where in the bishops stated that the Philippine mining industry has a poor record of community accountability. ”Over the years, mining companies have systematically engaged in the rape of Mother Earth and left a legacy of impoverished communities and environmental despoliation…”, the letter added.
Further, the Archbishop stated that having seen and judged the nature of mining and its ill effects, now is the time to act. Utleg asked the people especially those concerned to organize “circles of discernment” in the different barangays in the parish to see the havoc that mining brings to the lives and livelihood of the people. He also urged other pastors to encourage the parishioners to protect and preserve the natural environment in the context of living the Christian faith.
Utleg also urged the Cagayanons to seek dialogues and appeal to government agencies especially to LGUs neither to allow nor to give permits to mining companies that plunder the natural resources. He asked for mobilizations of the people to manifest their opposition to mining through demonstrations, court actions, prayer rallies, etc. and to join other pro-environment groups in preserving the integrity of creation. He further urged the motivation of the people to be on guard not only against mining but also against all forms of destructive activities like logging, illegal fishing, and bad farming practices that destroy and endanger our natural environment.
“Let us hope and pray that through our prayers, vigilance and mass actions, we will be able to put an end to the destruction of our natural resources brought about by irresponsible mining. Through the intercession our Our Lady of Piat, our Mother and Patroness, may God continue to shower us with His abundant blessings,” Utleg ended. # nordis.net