MANILA, April 26, 2013—Residents in Sibuyan, Romblon marked the celebration of Earth Day last April 22 through simultaneous caravan and prayers reiterating its rejection of mining explorations in the island province.
Asking the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecological protection, ten thousand prayer cards with the image of the saint were embedded along the 7-kilometer stretch national highway in San Fernando town.
Urging everyone to uphold the integrity of creation, various Churches and religions through an ecumenical forum gathered petitions of more than 120,000 signatures to halt mining in the province of Romblon, especially in Sibuyan Island.
“We must protect creation; the earth is abused and dying. We must save Sibuyan Island, which is a God-given gift to us. I will not endorse names in the coming elections but choose candidates who are pro-God, pro-People, pro-Family, and pro-Environment,” said Fr. Noel Sixon, parish priest of Our Lady of Remedies.
The “Tao Muna Hindi Mina” campaign was also joined by Miss Earth 2012 runner-ups, including 2012 Miss Earth Philippines runner-up Princess Manson and 2013 Miss Earth Air Stephanie Stefanowitz.
Stefanowitz said that people should protect, preserve and conserve the environment for present and future generations to come.
“Let us make everyday an Earth Day,” she added.
Considered as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspot, Sibuyan Island in the Municipality of San Fernando has been dubbed by conservationists and environmentalist as Galapagos of Asia which is the home to the world’s densest forest and the country’s cleanest inland body of water, river category, the Cantingas River.
The whole island is protected as it has been proclaimed as a mangrove swamp forest reserve and its core zone is the Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park, but is currently threatened by mining operations in the province.
San Fernando Mayor Dindo Rios said the large-scale mining permit has been granted by former environment secretary Lito Atienza through a midnight deal, three days before he resigned in 2009 opening almost 1,500 hectares of land for mineral production sharing agreement.
“The national government’s Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) mandated by President Aquino’s Executive Order (EO) 79, must review the approved agreement as soon as possible, thus, we are strongly calling members of the council to visit our island and see for themselves how delicate our island is,” Rios furthered. (Jandel Posion)