Bishop Cabantan hits mining, criminality in New Year homily

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/03 January) – Malaybalay Bishop Jose Araneta Cabantan centered his homily on mining and rising criminality in Bukidnon, in a mass held on New Year’s Eve at the San Isidro Cathedral here.

“Mining, whether small or large scale, is a threat to the environment,” Cabantan said.

Cabantan’s statement contradicted that of Bukidnon Governor Alex Calingasan late last year which said that small-scale mining would not harm the environment but would instead help the Lumads (indigenous peoples) earn a living.

“We need an engaged citizenry who will be able to chart their own destiny as a people,” Cabantan said in his 18-paragraph homily which urged Christians in the province to “stand by, uphold and not compromise Christian values as empowered lay, religious, and clergy.”

The bishop said he plans to build on what former Bukidnon bishops Francisco Claver, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, and Honesto Pacana had started.

Cabantan said he hoped to “rekindle and sustain always the general ecclesiological thrust of a participative, discerning, and co-responsible Church in the Diocese.”

“(In the past) they were environmentally engaged and succeeded in implementing total log ban in the whole province,” he added.

But he noted that it cost “no less than the blood of the Diocese’s first martyr for the environment – Fr. Neri Satur.

Satur was killed on Oct. 14, 1991, more than two years after the logging moratorium was imposed, allegedly by militiamen who were engaged in timber smuggling.

Cabantan’s predecessor, Bishop Emeritus Honesto Pacana, was also against mining in Bukidnon, even if the provincial government had approved at least 20 small-scale mining projects.

Cabantan also expressed dismay over the peace and order situation in the province.

“We are saddened by the proliferation of violence and crimes in the whole Diocese. Peace not merely as an absence of war remains a constant quest for all of us,” he said.

He also cited the unresolved agrarian problems in the province.

“Land issues and conflicts are still on the onslaught affecting our farmers,” he said, adding the dignity of plantation workers “have to be looked into, protected, and defended.”

The bishop stressed the need to “critically engage” with other groups, government offices, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations “in the light of our faith, in the promotion and defense of life, in achieving authentic development of our people.” (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)