Filipino priest wins international environment award

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Monday, April 16, 2012

FILIPINO priest Edwin Gariguez has been named one of the winners of The Goldman Environmental Prize award over his anti-mining advocacies, particularly in the island of Mindoro.
In a statement, the US-based The Goldman Environmental Prize named Gariguez as the winner from the Islands and Island Nations for the year 2012.
“A Catholic priest, Edwin Gariguez, has led a group fighting the major nickel mining in Mindoro in order to protect the biodiversity of the island as well as the native inhabitants,” said the organization.
He became second Filipino to have received such an award with the first being Von Hernandez, whose battle against waste incineration was recognized back in 2003.
To recall, Gariguez’s Alliance Against Mining (Alamin) had led Mindoro residents, civil society groups, church leaders and indigenous people in the numerous protests against a large-scale nickel mining operations in the Mindoro Island.
The Goldman Prize annually honors grassroots environmental heroes from the six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America for their sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.
Aside from Gariguez, the Goldman Prize also recognized five other “environment heroes,” namely: Ikal Angelei (Kenya), Ma Jun (China), Evgenia Chirikova (Russia), Caroline Cannon (United States), and Sofia Gatica (Argentina).
During his acceptance speech during a ceremony held at the San Francisco Opera House in California, USA, Gariguez, instead, offered the recognition to the Mangyan indigenous people of Mindoro, whose care for the Earth inspired him in his work.
“For them, nature is likened to a womb that sustains us with life. Badang, a Mangyan leader that went with me for the hunger strike, was ready to die to save the watershed threatened by mining. For her, once the forest is destroyed, we too will perish. I come to understand that what is at stake in the campaign is the survival of the earth ecology, of which we are merely a part,” he said.
“It is my conviction that protecting the rights of the poor should take precedence over corporate greed. In the same manner, genuine development should prioritize the need to ensure ecological sustainability over market profitability. We should never sacrifice people and the environment for short-term benefit of the few,” Gariguez added. (HDT/Sunnex)

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