MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/17 October) — Twenty years after the killing of Fr. Nerylito Satur, the Diocese of Bukidnon is no longer expecting justice from the courts, Bishop Jose Cabantan said.
“The people should find justice for his death through making sure that the environment, God’s creations, which he died for, will be protected,” the bishop said.
But the bishop noted that Fr. Satur’s family is still keen on finding justice for Satur who was gunned down on October 14, 1991 while on his way home from celebrating a fiesta mass in th hinterlands of Valencia town (now a city). .
Two decades after Satur’s death, Bukidnon’s ecological situation “is perhaps even worse than during his time,” the bishop said in his pastoral letter read in all masses in the province on Oct. 16.
He said in spite of the imposition of the logging moratorium in the province in the late 1980s, Bukidnon’s natural forests and watershed areas continue to decline. He noted that in 2005, the estimated remaining forest cover of Bukidnon was only 25 percent of its total land area.
“Sad to say, this alarming percentage is already far lower than the ideal minimum requirement of an ecological balance, especially that Bukidnon crucially serves as a ‘headwater’ province in Mindanao,” he added.
Cabantan stressed the province is continually threatened by the real possibility of water crisis and plagued by various forms of ecological disasters largely due to the insufficient forest cover “that could no longer render its usual ecological services to the community of life.”
He urged parishioners to help continue the slain priest’s mission “to struggle for the liberation of the poor and the integrity of creation.”
\The bishop added that many of the major causes of poverty today are intimately linked to the ecological crisis.
“We are also aware of the fact that the first to be greatly affected by this ecological crisis are the rural poor farmers, especially the indigenous peoples, whose daily survival entirely depends on the providence of nature and the irreplaceable ecological services of the forests,” he added.
He said the public’s negative experience of the ecological crisis that aggravates poverty shows “there must be something wrong with how we relate with God’s creation”.
“As your shepherd in this diocese, I invite you to discern the right human attitude towards God’s creation in the light of the Catholic social teaching,” he added.
He said ongoing abuses of the remaining Bukidnon forests and watersheds “make us irresponsible stewards of God’s creation.” (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)