A Catholic bishop held Mass at an anti-mining barricade in southern Palawan town of Brooke’s Point on Tuesday, urging demonstrators not to give up the fight against what he called the “rape of nature.”
Bishop Socrates Mesiona of Puerto Princesa lauded the protesters for their “brave acts” and even putting their lives at risk just to protect the environment from further destruction.
“We need to remain vigilant and continue to help each other because it seems that this struggle will still take time,” Bishop Mesiona said in his homily.
“But our fight must continue,” he said. “As believers, we are called to protect and care for both creation and the human person.”
The bishop called the mining operations as “rape of mother nature” that will just be left alone after being “abused.”
“After they (mining company) get what they want, they will just leave us,” he said. “We will be the ones who will suffer and not the businessmen and that’s the sad reality,” he added.
The barricade has been ongoing for the 17th day in a row outside the Ipilan Nickel Corp. (INC) main office in the village of Maasin.
Demonstrators assert that the mining company has been operating without a mayor’s permit.
The bishop noted that the movement came from the grassroots and had its strongholds among small farmers, Palaw’an indigenous peoples and fisher folks.
Accompanied by about 10 priests, it was the bishop’s second visit to the campsite to show the Church’s support to their cause.
Also present during the Mass was Brooke’s Point Vice Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano.
“Destroying the environment is a sin. And so as believers, we are obliged to protect our only home,” Bishop Mesiona said.