Bishop joins fight vs. Bulacan steel mill

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Malolos Bishop Oliveros during the rite of the opening of the Door of Mercy at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Meycauayan, Bulacan, Dec. 13, 2015 (Photo: Celine Paola Abacan)

MALOLOS City, Bulacan, March 2, 2016– In the spirit of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’, Malolos Bishop José F. Oliveros lends his voice to the growing clamor of the people of Bulacan to halt a proposed steel mill in barangay Parulan, Plaridel town, citing the many risks it poses to life, property, and nature.

“Please heed the call of your local constituents to deny approval of the steel mill in Parulan, Plaridel,” said the Bulacan prelate in a recent letter to the province’s Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, Vice Governor Daniel R. Fernando, Plaridel Mayor Jocell Aimee Vistan-Casaje, and Vice Mayor Rolando C. Javier.

According to Oliveros, the project’s current proposed location near schools, households, and productive rice fields imperils the health and safety of residents, their means of income as well as the environment.

Project dangers

The Catholic leader pointed out its being within the area of the Angat-Maasim Irrigation System automatically renders the site non-negotiable for conversion.

Oliveros explained the planned extraction of industrial water from Angat River’s maintenance flow during summer months also endangers the river’s capability to sustain aquatic life, and threatens a serious water supply competition for downstream uses like communal irrigation.

In the same letter, the prelate went on to assure Bulaqueños the diocese is one with them in the fight against the project.

“At this stage, the Diocese of Malolos declares its continued support to local communities of Parulan and nearby barangays of Plaridel, who are opposing the siting and operation of the Del Pilar Steel Rolling Project,” he stressed.

Pending concerns

Moreover, Oliveros bemoaned that to this day,over 40 of the people’s concerns remain unresolved.

In particular, he blasted the ongoing flooding of rice fields to the east of the proposed steel mill site due to the damage to irrigation drainage canals arising from premature backfilling and fencing of the site.

“We have also been informed that the ECC (Environmental Compliance Certificate) is under appeal and that the various applications for permits are under protest by various sectors,” he said.

Leaders’ eco-responsibility

Despite continued protests, Oliveros shared the Del Pilar Steel, Inc. (DPSI) is doing what it can since the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued the ECC on Jan. 12 to secure the approval of the Barangay and Municipal Councils and the Provincial Board, while applying for various government permits which will allow the project to push through.

“We earnestly urge your good offices to disapprove the improper siting of the said steel mill and instead call for its relocation to anenvironmentally and socially appropriate site,” he appealed to local government officials in the letter.

Quoting the Holy Father, the bishop urged them and others in similar positions of responsibility to be “protectors of creation, of God’s plan inscribed in nature, of one another, and of the environment.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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