Surigao bishop calls on flock in campaign vs mining

CANTILAN, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/6 Oct) – Tandag Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar has called on the people of Surigao del Sur to renew their commitment against mining and in the protection of nature during a
symposium here Thursday.

“When we commit mistake to God, He will forgive us after we repent for our sins and ask forgiveness. But when we commit mistake against nature, it will not forgive us and it will unleash a dreadful path of destruction just like what had happened last December when Sendong hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan,” the bishop said.

The church-led two-day symposium invited participants from the towns of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza (collectively known as CarCanMadCarLan). It was held at the Immaculate Conception parish church here on the first day, then at the San Vicente Ferrer Parish in the town of Carmen on Thursday.

Fr. Raymond Ambray, Parochial Vicar of the Immaculate Conception Parish, explained to the participants the fundamentals on the theology of creation and how it is related to the protection of the environment.

“With one source of creation, everything is interrelated and interconnected. We as created children of God have a task in this
world to protect nature. It was not given only to a few but for the rest of us to gain from it,” said the priest, who is also the executive secretary for the Social Action Center of CarCanMadCarLan.

Miners and loggers, he said, justify that what they are doing to nature are justified since these resources are God’s gifts to man. But Ambray pointed out the miners and loggers abuse nature, and only a few get to enjoy the logs and the minerals, or the proceeds from these.

Cosme Loren, a member of the Surigao del Sur Irrigation Federation (SURIF) who was speaking in behalf of the farmers in Cantilan, expressed fears that if the large-scale mining operations within the town’s watershed area would not be stopped, there will be a gradual decline in their harvest and a deadly blow to their livelihood.

“Since last year the harvest has declined. In the last cropping, we had fewer harvest since the water from the mountains failed to reach our farm lands. Irrigation canals throughout the system went dry,” he said.

Loren stressed the need to protect the environment because when it fights back, it will not choose its victims. “Every one of us will suffer its wrath,” he warned.

The town’s Municipal Tribal Council headed by Datu Dagsaan (or Jaime Bat-ao), who is from the Manobo tribe, expressed his disbelief in the injustice done towards the environment and their ancestral land in Barangay Kabangahan.

“I say to you all, that if faith would take its ugly turn, I will gladly give up my life in defense of our lands which the Marc-Venture Mining has ravaged and destroyed. If you go up there you will see the rape of what used to be our farm lands. The memories of how rich and fertile our corn crops way back then is now but just a painful reminder,” said Bat-ao.

He revealed that the indigenous people in their community are planning to put up a picket point to prevent trucks and other heavy equipment from coming into their community.

Representatives from the high schools in Cantilan, Madrid and Carmen also shared their concerns and said they will help out in giving support and voice for the protection of the environment.

According to church officials, the Social Action Center plans to have more similar activities in the future in the hope to facilitate
awareness among the people in the CarCanMadCarLan area. (Erwin Mascariñas / MindaNews)