By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia which covers the province of Ilocos Sur led the Catholic faithful, other religious denominations, environmentalist groups and other organizations in a prayer rally against magnetite mining in the province of Ilocos Sur.
Members and leaders of the Defend Ilocos Against Mining Plunder (Defend Ilocos), Ilocos Sur Collective Action for the Protection of the Environment (ISCAPE), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Ilocos Sur Chapter among others joined the faithful of the Simbaan Sangkarubaan (SiSa), grassroot communities within the jurisdiction of Nueva Segovia in the province in a prayer program dubbed “Tignay Kararag para ti aglawlaw” (Prayer action for the environment) at the Burgos Plaza of Vigan City, February 9.
At least 3,000 individuals joined the prayer rally after which they marched toward the business district of Vigan City in a bid to deliver their message to the wider population and the government officials as well.
Defend Ilocos said the prayer rally is an expression of the people of Ilocos Sur against the widespread destructive magnetite mining in the province. The environmentalist group also stated that this is to refute the claims of Ilocos Sur officials that there are no magnetite mining activities in their place.
The group monitored magnetite mining activities in San Vicente, Caoayan towns and Sta. Catalina towns.
Defend Ilocos spokesperson Donna Rabang Peta said for a long period of time, the people of Ilocos including the institutions of the church, the academe and media among others kept mum on the plunder of mining companies on the seashores and even under the sea of the province. She said that the silence of the people has come to an end.
“We are showing that we can put aside our fears if lives and other creations are at stake,” she added.
Peta said there are no other people who should protect the seashores of Ilocos Sur and stand for their rights and ensure a safe environment but the Ilocano people themselves. She said if the people will not take necessary actions against the destructive magnetite mining, the future generations will suffer from the effects of environmental degradation.
She said that the collaboration between greedy government officials and mining companies should be exposed and opposed at the most immediate time. This she said is their responsibility as a people of the province and as Christians. (Posted by Northern Dispatch / )