[Press Release] NGOs await the return of Fr. Edu Gariguez—2012 Goldman Environmental Awardee -ATM

NGOs await the return of Fr. Edu Gariguez—2012 Goldman Environmental Awardee
Describe him as a ‘barefoot priest’, always in touch with the people

Manila—Groups here are excited to meet and congratulate Fr. Edwin Gariguez—one of this year’s Goldman Environmental Award recipients.

Fr. Edu who received the award, annually given to “grassroots environmental heroes from each of the world’s 6 inhabited continental regions,” last April 16 at the San Francisco Opera House in the United States, offered his prize to the Mangyan people.

He said: “Protecting the rights of the poor should take precedence over corporate greed. Genuine development must prioritize the need to ensure ecological sustainability over market profitability. We must never sacrifice people and the environment for short-term benefit of the few.”

Different groups here know the humble priest not only as an anti-mining advocate but a facilitator of change and social justice.

“The award to Fr. Edu is principally the recognition of the thirteen-year struggle of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN), a broad coalition of Mindoreños united against the Intex Resources Nickel Project which was organized in April 1999.

“As a priest of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan and member of the Mangyan Mission Fr. Edu was a catalyst in his leadership role of protecting and empowering the rights of the Mangyan Cultural Communities and their shared vision of ensuring stewardship and ecological sustainability of their ancestral lands for future generations,” said Fr. Archie Casey, SX of the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is reminded of the perseverance of Fr. Edu when the Mangyans decided to go on hunger strike to oppose the Intex Nickel Project. Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator said: “Fr. Edu is a genuine advocate of peoples rights, not only for the Mangyans of Mindoro but of all mining-affected communities in the country.”

Judy Pasimio, executive director of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center from 2009 to 2011 is reminded of Fr. Edu’s strength during the Mindoro struggle and the hunger strike in 2009: “He is an example of the priest who does not just stand and preach in the pulpit, but who is really in touch ‘with the people’ he is serving. During the hunger strike, many people dropped out of the fast and headed back to Mindoro, but Fr. Edu would not leave as long as there were Mangyans protesting—at that time Fr. Edu and the group were willing to sacrifice their lives if the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will not hear their call.”

Jon Sarmiento, member of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN) and a Mindoreño said, “Karapat-dapat lang sa kanya and award. Higit din sa Goldman Award ang pagmamahal at pakilala namin sa kanyang gawa—at nasa puso ng Mindoreño ‘yon. Hindi siya lehtimong taga-Mindoro pero itinaya niya ang kanyang buhay, oras at talino sa pakikibaka. Tunay siyang paring naglilingkod at huwaran sa pakikibaka.” (Fr. Edu is truly deserving of the Goldman Award. People of Mindoro are proud of him and will forever be grateful for his sacrifice and efforts in his support in the sruggle against Intex Resources. He is not a legitimate Mindoreño but he selflessly offered his life for our struggle. He is a real servant leader and activist.)

“Masaya kami sa award niya at pinagmamalaki naming nakasama siya sa pagkilos,” (We are happy and proud to be with him in our struggle.) Sarmiento added.

Fr. Edu is now for two years the Secretary-General of the Catholic Bishops Conferences of the Philippines—National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA).

Garganera added, “Now with CBCP-NASSA, he is playing a bigger role, not only for ALAMIN and the Mangyans but all indigenous and rural communities. He is also one of our champions in advocating the passage of a new minerals management policy that will ensure the rights of the people and protection of natural resources.

“This award should signal the need for the Aquino administration to ssue a new mining policy that reflect the principles and advocacies that Fr. Edu stands for,” Garganera concluded.

ALAMIN’s membership includes Mangyan Federations, civil society groups, Catholic and Protestant church leaders, NGOs, Peoples Organizations, schools, teachers and students, mountaineers and environmentalists, peasant groups, human rights advocates, elected officials at various levels of government and villages.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the passage of the Philippine Mineral Resources Act a.k.a. Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02 <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy Research & Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61 <policy@alyansatigilmina.net>

Press Release
April 18, 2012

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