Caraga folks commemorate Earth Day with protest rally

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 April) – Some 8,000 people from all over Caraga Region braved the summer heat here today to join a massive rally in front of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to commemorate Earth Day.

Dr. Maria Natividad Castro, head of secretariat of the environment group Caraga Watch, said rallyists come from the five provinces of Caraga.

She said serious environmental problems in Caraga forced them to hold the rally to show that people are against the operations of large-scale mining companies in the region, particularly in Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Island.

The massive rally caused a traffic jam along the national highway, forcing motorist to take a detour to Lipata Highway and Sabang or Ceniza Heights.

The delegation from Dinagat and Surigao del Norte marched from the city’s boulevard this morning, then went through city streets before they ended up in front of the MGB regional office.

Those from Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Butuan City started their march from Gaisano Capital Surigao.

Organizers said that that the Surigao del Sur delegation held a picket at the Taganito Mining Company and Taganito High Pressure Acid Leach in Claver, Surigao del Norte this morning before proceeding to the MGB office.

Local historian Fernando Almeda Jr. said today’s protest was the largest anti-mining rally ever being held in this city.

Castro said they are calling on the attention of the MGB and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to come up with solutions regarding the serious environmental problems now facing the Caraga Region.

She said that the mining has great negative impact on health, agriculture and aquaculture, and even caused the displacement of lumads.

Engr. Noli Arreza, acting regional director of MGB-Caraga, opened his office for a dialog with protesters. It was still ongoing as of press time.

Edgar Canda, coordinator of Bayan Muna, said that operations of mining companies must be stopped, adding that these brought nothing beneficial to the host communities. Instead, mining caused massive pollution in many parts of the region, he further said.