Churchworkers expose wrongdoings in Bukidnon

The statement, endorsed by the 421 delegates to the diocese's 38th Diocesan Pastoral Assembly, expressed observations in the environment, politics, socio-cultural and economy.
Among the observations made under the "political" realm was on the alleged "dishonest and not free elections" (dili matinud-anon ug gawasnon nga piniliay); wrong motives in joining politics (sayop nga katuyuan sa pag-apil sa politika); bad governance and abuses of those in power (hiwi nga pagdumala ug pag-abuso sa mga naa sa gahum).
The participants, including Bishop Honesto Pacana and the province's priests, religious and lay people, agreed to pass the statement a day after Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo told the assembly it is up for the lay people to handle political and economic issues around them as part of their social duties.
For environment, the statement said bodies of water are contaminated with chemicals from plantations, mines and farms; that the forests are vanishing due to continuous legal and illegal logging, slash and burn (kaingin) and charcoal-making (pag-uling-uling); and lack of awareness among plantations, mines, governments and the people in taking genuine measures to stop the destruction of the environment.
For cultural, the church workers expressed alleged unjust ownership of ancestral lands owned by indigenous peoples and poor farmers. They the denounced the supposed dishonest, unjust and unfair implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and the alleged spread of the culture of gambling and illegal drugs.
For the economy, the church workers noted the alleged unfair payment of wages and benefits to laborers. They said there are unfair rates for rentals of lands in the province where big tracts of lands are rented for agricultural plantations. The church workers noted in the statement the unfair selling prices of farm implements and buying prices for farm products.
"Because of this, based on Christian values and teachings of the (Catholic) Church, we express our stand," the participants stated in the statement written in Cebuano.
The group proposed to continue working based on earlier stands like the total log ban and the rejection of all initiatives that "destroy the environment".
They have agreed to continue the implementation of their positions for political change through regular education of basic ecclesial communities or (BECs).
They stood to support the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) through strengthening the church's Indigenous Peoples' Apostolate (IPA).
The statement expressed support for initiatives of the church's Social Action Center and other agencies such as government and non-government organizations that have a vision to improve the economic situation of laborers.
"We believe that these positions could be realized and lived within the BECs, which we believe is the bridge for personal and social changes towards a moral life,” the said.
Facilitators noted that the statement was drafted in general and decided to do away with specifics.
The statement was drafted after several small group sharing and reflection sessions, including that following Pabillo's "Dignity of the Rural Poor" where he asked them to be "Catholic enough" by doing their social duties.
Along with the statement, the participants passed three resolutions, including an appeal for Congress to allocate budget to augment the agrarian reform fund for CARP to continue beyond 2008. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)