‘Salakyag’ reeling off
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.
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.”
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.”
Salakyag starts in Mindanao on May 28,
moving to the Visayas, the Bicol area, and then Manila on June 5.
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Maria Congee S. Gomez ([email protected]) is a university lecturer in journalism and a communication specialist at Nassa/Caritas Philippines.
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