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Bishop joins march against Surigao del Sur mining

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The march was convened by the CarCanMadCarLan Baywatch Foundation, Inc. (CBFI), Surigao del Sur Irrigators’ Federation, Inc. (SURIF), Cantilan Irrigation System Federation of Irrigators Association, Diocese of Tandag Social Action Center, Philippine Eagle Foundation, Immaculate Concepcion Parish (Cantilan), Parish Youth Apostolate, CAHAYAG and Lovers of Nature, Inc. The said sectors are supported by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Legal rights and Natural Resource Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth-Philippines (LRC-KSK/FOE-Phils.), and BALAOD MINDANAW.

A Eucharistic Celebration was then officiated by Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar of the Diocese of Tandag after he joined the march. A victory rally at the town plaza followed the mass. The program centered on the theme “Panalipdan Tubig Kinabuhi" focusing on water as source of life.

Expressing his disappointment with the government, Bishop Odchimar  said that he “felt betrayed upon learning that the Department Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had already issued Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs) to Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC) and Carac-an Development Corporation (CDC) two months prior of having been assured of looking deeply into the watershed proclamation vis a vis mining in a dialogue with Sec. Lito Atienza."

“As long as I am the mayor, no mining will ever be approved in this municipality," Cantilan Mayor Tomasa Guardo proclaimed in unity with her Sangguniang Bayan members who issued an ordinance against mining.

Emma Hotchkiss, president of CBFI, read Presidential Proclamation 1747, declaring the portion of the public domain of Alamyo, Buyaan, Paniki Rivers and Sipangpang Falls situated in the Municipalities of Carascal, Cantilan and Madrid, Province of Surigao del Sur and in the Municipalities of Jabonga, Santiago and Cabadbaran, Province of Agusan del Norte as critical watershed forest reserves.

“We shall take a unified action and urge the government to cancel the Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) of MMDC and CDC  and not only depend on the protection of the said presidential proclamation,” Hotchkiss said.

Rodne R. Galicha, ATM Sites of Struggle Officer, presented the national mining situation and strongly stated that “real progress is to live sustainably in accordance with the processes of nature and should not abuse the rights of those who live at present and of the generations to come.”

The gathering ended with the symbolic signing of the petition by representatives from different sectors and stakeholders for the cancellation of the MPSAs of the two aforementioned companies. They are legally supported by BALAOD Mindanaw's lawyer Pilipinas Palma. (CarCanMadCarLan Baywatch Foundation, Inc.. Emma Hotchkiss is president of the foundation).

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