Father Gariguez, 2012 GoldMan Winner will Inspire Minda Leaders
Cagayan de Oro City – Father Edu Gariguez, as one of the 6 winners worldwide of Goldman for 2012 was recognized for his efforts to protect the environment and their communities in Mindoro island will be in Cagayan de Oro for the Mindanao Leaders Summit this Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012.
Gariguez, who is known as “Father Edu,” has been serving as a pastor of the Mangyan Mission Catholic Church in Mindoro.He is also executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace of the Philippine Catholic Church.
Mindoro is a fragile island ecosystem. The rate of degradation of the forest in the island is alarming. From the 967,400 hectares of forest in the 1950s, the remaining forest cover of Mindoro at present is only about 50,000 hectares. The significant forest loss of 95% contributed to the instability of the environment both in the upland and lowland areas. But instead of restoring the balance, the forest ecosystems are now even more in danger of being denuded due to the threats posed by more than 92 mining applications all over the island of Mindoro.
Approved House (Congress) Resolution No. 25, clearly asserts that “the Mindoro Nickel Project of lntex Resources and Aglubang Mining, covers one of the province’s watershed areas as duly declared and identified in the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Physical Framework Plan. The mining exploration site encroaches on the Mag-asawang Tubig Watershed, the largest source of irrigation water for the 40,000 hectares of rice lands in Calapan City, and the towns of Naujan, Baco and Victoria, Oriental Mindoro.”
In July of 2001 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources revoked the mining concession on environmental and social impact grounds. Then DENR Secretary Alvarez explained his decision and that of President Arroyo as being based on the need to protect critical watersheds, to protect the food security of the Mindorenos (local communities), and to respect the social unacceptability of the project. “The Mindoro Nickel Project is one case where sustainability is bound to fail . . . President Arroyo is fully aware of the situation . . . what does it gain the nation to be short sighted and merely think of money, when an irreparable damage to the environment will cost human lives, health and livelihood capacity of our farmers and fisherfolks endangering the food security of our people.”
In 2009, Father Edu led the 25 hunger strikers, majority of whom were Mangyans. Their call – Revoke the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) granted to INTEX, cancel the MPSA in Mindoro. Along with the hunger strikers were the 2 governors of Mindoro Oriental and Occidental provinces, the Vice Governor of Occidental, mayors, Congressmen; members of ALAMIN; Bishops and priests, tens of them; nuns, and NGO supporters. It was indeed a strong show of force united in their demand.
Gariguez was key in uniting thousands of indigenous peoples, farmers and local and provincial political leaders in numerous protests against mining on the island which led the DENR to deny the ECC of INTEX.
Mindanao Leaders Summit
2nd Floor Cabadbaran Bank, Tiano-Dolores St.,
Cagayan de Oro City
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