Surigao groups call for support of pro-environment candidates

MADRID, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/14 October) — Multiectoral groups all over Surigao del Sur called on voters to support in next year’s elections, candidates with clear agenda on the protection and preservation of the environment.

Dr. Isidro Olan, executive director of Lovers of Nature Foundation Inc., in Carmen town said his  group is planning to look into the platforms of in the towns of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza (CarCanMadCarLan) who have a concrete environmental agenda.

“We are planning to launch an educational campaign among schools to push our youth to vote right and hopefully encourage the general public as well. It is essential we have leaders that will put environmental concerns on its top priority, said Olan.

Olan added that if the people won’t be united, the entire ecosystem of CarCanMadCarLan will be compromised.

“We need to vote pro-environment candidates, we’ve seen the effects caused by illegal logging and large scale mining operation in our province yet our leaders try to look away or just watch as greed slowly eats away our future,” he said.

Fr. Raymond Ambray, executive director of the Social Action Center (SAC) for the CarCanMadCarLan area explained the church stand for the upcoming 2013 election.

“Taking the clue from Tandag Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar’s message during the Earth Day celebration last April 22, that we guide the faithful to vote for those candidates who promote the common good. In the context of our diocese, those who have the willpower to prevent or oppose the wanton destruction of the environment that endangers the life and livelihood of the people, and rob the future of the next generation,” said Ambray.

Cortez mayor Pedro Trinidad Jr, said the welfare of the majority should come first.

“It’s high time that the people of Surigao del Sur be educated in selecting their leaders in this coming election. They should be able to distinguish leaders who would put the concern of preservation of our environment as one of its top agenda,” said Trinidad who is serving his last term in office until June 20, 2013.

The mayor cited as example the town’s eight marine sanctuaries and the trials the town went through to implement the protection of its eco system.

“When it was first implemented by the mayor before me, fisherfolk complained since they were not allowed to fish in the area. But now after ten years, the town is enjoying the rich benefits that we get from the ocean. Eighty per cent of  our people rely on the bounty of the town’s waters. If we can’t help in protecting our eco system, then who will?” he asked.

Retired Air Force general Charles Hotchkiss, executive vice president of Cantilan Bank, suggested that in CarCanMadCarLan, the care and protection of the environment is a burning issue.

“I hear that a lot of people in Madrid and Carmen expressed their opposition to the planned mining operations in their area but their leaders apparently do not share their concerns. In Cantilan, lines have clearly been drawn; candidates have presented themselves against powerful interests who would like to destroy the environment that has sustained the lives of his people for ages. This election will be a test and a challenge to Cantilangnons, I just hope they make the right decision,”  said Hotchkiss.

Charles and his older brother,  William, former Air Force chief and now head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) head,  have openly supported, along with their sister Emma,  have publicly expressed their concerns about the future of Surigao del Sur and the rest of Caraga region on the issue of environmental protection and preservation. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)