Church-led prayer assembly calls for halt to mining ops in Eastern Samar

January 29, 2024 - 12:55 PM
Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan and his clergy lead a “Jericho Prayer Assembly” against mining at the Immaculate Conception Parish Church in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on Jan. 20, 2024. (Alren Beronio via CBCP News)

“Stop killing the environment!”

With these words, local church leaders and lay people made an emphatic appeal for an end to mining operations in Eastern Samar province.

Droves of people have poured into a Catholic parish church in the province’s southernmost town of Guiuan on Saturday for a “Jericho Prayer Assembly” against mining.

The Samar island-wide gathering specifically called for a halt to mining operations on the islands of Homonhon and Manicani, which are being pillaged by several mining companies.

Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez emphasized during Mass that protecting the environment for future generations is a shared responsibility that all people bear.

“A good environment is an invaluable treasure not only for us today but also for our children’s grandchildren, the future generations,” Varquez said in his homily.

“A healthy environment is of a higher value than any amount of gain or money that is only temporary,” he said.

The bishop also pointed out that the saying “think globally, act locally” may offer the best path forward to address environmental problems such as the climate crisis.

“If we seek to face the climate crisis the right way, we have to adopt a view of the whole world and how its good may be served. We have to think global. But we must collectively decide and act from where we are. We have to act local,” he added.

More than 1,500 people joined the prayer assembly, with the majority coming from various parishes of the Borongan diocese.

Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, voiced its support for the diocese’s stand against mining.

“We stand in solidarity with the communities affected by mining operations in Samar island,” said Caritas Philippines Vice President Bishop Gerardo Alminaza.

“The devastating impacts on the environment and the lives of the people are a stark reminder of the urgency to act. We condemn the practices that prioritize profit over the well-being of individuals and ecosystems,” he said.

A prayer march was initially scheduled for November of last year in Guiuan. However, it did not proceed as planned after the local government denied the diocese the permit to hold the event.