Eastern Samar mayor denies prayer rally permit against mining

November 15, 2023 - 3:24 PM
A mining site in Homonhon island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. (Cartias Borongan)

A church-led prayer march against mining may not push through after the mayor of Guiuan turned down the request of the Diocese of Borongan to hold the event in this southern town of Eastern Samar province.

Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan said she denied the permit over supposed security reasons.

She said organizers failed to guarantee the “non-participation of the leftists and assure the safety and security of the public”.

Kwan also defended her decision, saying the diocese stopped short of assuring “that no provocateurs, infiltrators and criminals will take advantage of the rally”.

Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan earlier announced an island-wide Jericho Walk that will converge in Guiuan “as our prayer and cry against irresponsible mining in our islands”.

“We are called to be stewards of creation and to work towards a more just and sustainable future,” Varquez said.

They were supposed to be joined by about 3,000 marchers from the Archdiocese of Palo and the dioceses of Naval, Catarman and Calbayog.

But Kwan asserted that non-residents of Guiuan “should not intervene in the resolution of political and economic issues” of the town.

The bishop called on the faithful to advocate for policies that protect the environment and promote justice for all.

“Let us support initiatives of our diocese in our advocacy against environmental degradations,” he said.

In the whole island of Samar, Guiuan town has been host to most mining operations particularly in the historic island of Homonhon.

The diocese also expressed alarm over the possible resumption of nickel mining operations on the island of Manicani of the same municipality of Guiuan, which has been suspended since 2022 over allegations of human rights and environmental violations.