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COMMENTARY

‘Salakyag’ reeling off

05:05 AM May 28, 2018

Tell me what good mining operations have brought communities, and I will give you a rundown of unrest.

Not a few watersheds are massively destroyed. The most affected ethnic minorities live in a frustrating situation, with their boys engaged in child labor and deprived of education. The girls are buoyed by returns from sex work, making health a waning issue.

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And when you have an administration enmeshed in propoor, anticorrupt activities, but is a reluctant mover to preserve environmental frontiers, you get a precise deaf ear.

In a conversation with Yolly Esguerra, executive director of Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), she said: “This economic system is supported by a legal structure that allows the plunder of nature under the guise of laws minimizing and managing environmental destruction. There has to be a totally new framework that would consider the inherent rights of nature to exist, flourish and regenerate for the good of all creation, not just to minimize and manage its destruction.”

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And the whole capitalist economic system is profit-driven, where nature is all that we have, she added.

I talk of a balancing act between the gains of mining and the moral responsibility for the common good of communities, and I get only politicians’ comradeship in layers of “balance.” Look again, but deeply.

Now, we lobby for some green legislation to take shape. But the delay in response is taking a toll, and as I write this piece, a new campaign is taking off. It is called “Salakyag Para sa Sangnilikha 2018: Sama-samang Sakay-Lakbay-Layag Para sa Sangnilikha,” campaign, and the PMPI and Nassa/Caritas Philippines are staunchly behind it

Salakyag is a nationally synchronized antimining action conceptualized in 2015. It was originally intended to highlight mining-related issues, and call the establishment of small
island-ecosystems as “no-go zones” for mining. But as the push for green bills took center stage, launching the “rights of nature” became significant above else.

Esguerra said Salakyag is a timely platform to uphold the rights of nature “as equal in importance to the rights of human beings.”

She said: “The modern world has produced a modern man/woman so disconnected with nature and sees only its usefulness in relation to him/her. The natural perspective should be the ability to see the usefulness of each of the species to each other and therefore their interconnectedness.”

Fr. Edu Gariguez, Nassa/Caritas executive secretary, cited the three forms of Salakyag: a venue for raising awareness of the fight for the rights of nature, a widespread protest against mining, and a response to the Pope’s “Laudato Si.”

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Salakyag starts in Mindanao on May 28,
moving to the Visayas, the Bicol area, and then Manila on June 5.

* * *

Maria Congee S. Gomez (mariacongee-@gmail.com) is a university lecturer in journalism and a communication specialist at Nassa/Caritas Philippines.

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TAGS: ethnic minorities, Inquirer Commentary, Maria Congee S. Gomez, mining, Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., PMPI, Yolly Esguerra
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