Biking priest talks peace, environment in Bukidnon homily

He told MindaNews environment and peace are key issues in the province of Bukidnon, citing 48 big firms intend to mine almost a third of Bukidnon's land area.
In his 5:30 p.m. mass here he told parishioners that Bukidnon had suffered enough from the massive logging operations that ravaged the province until the 1980's.
He recalled the pickets and barricades in the province in the late 1980s that led to the imposition of a logging moratorium. Picardal was then assigned with the Redemptorist Mission Team in San Fernando, Bukidnon. Residents there staged a human barricade to prevent the entry and exit of logging trucks. Later, they took to the highway in Malaybalay City, eventually getting then Environment Secretary Fulgencio Factoran to declare a logging moratorium in the province.

Picardal called for a total log ban and the repeal of the 1995 Mining Act saying it makes the government "favor the mining firms and not the poor."

He cited the local governments of Bukidnon for expressing opposition to large-scale mining.

"But it is not enough until the Mining Act remains legal," he said, adding, "Mining would impoverish the people."
Picardal also called for an end to the government's "Total War Policy" against the New People's Army,. saying it is part of the "culture of death and suffering."
He called the counterinsurgency drive counter-productive and urged for the resumption of peace negotiations.
"I don't believe the war policy would work better than the peace process," he said.

Picardal, whose tour would run for 56 days and cover 5,000 kilometers, arrived in Malaybalay alone. But he will be accompanied by at least two other priests from the local diocese as he leaves for Cagayan de Oro early Wednesday morning.

As he was biking from Buda village along the Bukidnon-Davao national highway, local reporters received reports the military and the NPA clashed anew in barangay Concepcion in Valencia City. The incident was the second to be reported here since last week.
In his seven-minute homily, the priest also called for an end to abortion and corruption and urged transparency in governance.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)