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BUTUAN CITY -- Organizers of an anti-mining protest in Surigao del Sur expect to gather 10,000 people to form a human chain linking six towns of the province on Saturday.
The call to hold the protest against mining in Madrid town was issued by church leaders, environmental groups and civic organizations.
Tandag Bishop Nereo P. Ochimar, in his letter to the priest of the diocese, linked the death and destruction caused by natural calamities to abuse of the environment.
“The reasons for deaths and destruction by the massive floods, landslides and other natural calamities are not only caused by the power and elements of nature but this is brough about by the abuse of men against the integrity and will of God,” he said.
The human chain, which will be organized at 8 a.m. Saturday, will link the towns of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen, Lanuza and Parang.
The parishes of the 11 other towns in the province have also acknowledged Ochimar’s call and will be sending their delegations.
Once the chain is set up, protesters will stage a 20-minute noise barrage and then march to the Carac-an River in Barangay San Juan, Madrid for a concelebrated mass and program.
“This activity is extremely important in our struggle to protect the environment because the whole Diocese of Tandag will also mobilize their support, thus people from all over the province of Surigao del Sur will join the activity,” said Fr. Frank Olvis parish priest of Parang town and Vicar Forane of the CARCANMADCARLAN-PAR zone.
He said mining applications in the province cover critical forest and watershed areas and pose serious threats to lives and livelihoods in the area.
“This is the reason why we have decided to mobilize the broadest number of people in order to manifest our concern and our opposition to the destruction of the natural environment that been left unchecked,” Olvis said.
“This is the first time a mobilization of such magnitude is conducted by the diocese. Other towns as well as groups and organization has manifested the interest to join and participate in the campaign,” said Vicente Cirilo A. Iriberri of the diocesan social action center.
“For several years now we have been hoping for a massive protest such as this that will reveal the unified stand of the people in Surigao del Sur that the destruction they are doing to our environment should stop,” said Emma Hotchkiss president of the Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen, Lanuza Baywatch Foundation, in a phone interview.
“Most of the people in the community don’t know how to protect themselves against the ongoing situation. With the ongoing information campaign by the diocese and other environmental groups the people will now have the knowledge about the dangers the mining,” she said.