A Catholic priest on the historic island of Homonhon made an emphatic appeal to restore the “sacredness” of the area that has long been “desecrated” by mining operations.
Speaking after Mass to mark the 500 years of the arrival of Christianity on the island on Wednesday, March 17, Father Christian Ofilan called for “unity” to save the island from further destruction.
He said the island off the coast of Guiuan town in Eastern Samar province is the first place in the country where Christianity landed five centuries ago.
For many years, people treated the island as a sacred place, he said.
“But what have we done? We have desecrated it. We destroyed this island,” said the priest. “We lost its sacredness because of our irresponsibility.”
“I would like to use my small voice to call on our government leaders, let us help each other to protect our sacred island,” he said.
The priest said the jubilee year declared by the Catholic Church should remind the faithful that part of their mission is to be good stewards of God’s creation.
“I call on the government leaders, please stop desecrating our island,” said Father Ofilan.
The 20-kilometer-long island, which is known for its vast deposits of nickel and chromite, have been grappling with open-pit mining since the early 1990s.