MANILA, April 24, 2016 – This year’s Earth Day Jam fêted a priest leading the social action, developmental, and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) at the GAIA Awards on April 23 in Pasay City.
The Earthday Jam Foundation, Inc. recognized Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, for leading various environmental advocacies and movements on behalf of the Catholic Church.
In his acceptance speech, the priest read poem renewing calls to protect the earth from degradation and mining abuses at the expense of the poor.
“While the poor are being taken advantaged, some are enjoying our limited natural resources. They treat them as blessings, which are actually false progress,” he said in Filipino.
Gariguez had been most recently recognized by the Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro city for championing the causes of the environment and indigenous communities. On March 17, the institution bestowed on Gariguez an honorary doctorate.
In 2012, the priest also won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, arguably the world’s most prestigious award for grassroots environmental activism.
Known for championing the causes of the environment and indigenous communities, Gariguez also he led an 11-day hunger strike with Mindoro’s Mangyan to stop the mining operations of the Norwegian firm Intex in 2009.
“Currently, he is leading the church’s largest three-year rehabilitation program called REACHPhilippines for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in nine provinces, with ecosystem rehabilitation as one of its interventions,” reads a NASSA/Caritas Philippines press release. (CBCPNews / NASSA / Caritas Philippines)