MacArthur fisherfolk thankful for archbishop’s support-A A +A
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
FISHERFOLK in Lake Bito of MacArthur, Leyte who are complaining about the recent fish kills expressed optimism that their battle to stop any mining operation in their town will be fruitful.
Jesus Cabias, president of the Lake Bito Fisherfolk Association, said Archbishop John Du of the Archdiocese of Palo recently visited their town and saw the “miserable scenario” of the effects of the existing mining operations of a mining firm.
“The people here are very thankful to the Catholic Church, especially to the newly appointed Archbishop who made an effort to visit our place and see the miserable scenario brought by mining in our area. He gave us special attention,” Cabias told Leyte Samar Daily Express in a phone patch interview Tuesday.
He said they were surprised when they saw the archbishop together with some priests visiting their town last week to see the area being affected by mining firm.
In his first Pontifical Mass celebrated in Tacloban City during the feast of the Mother of Perpetual Help at the Redemptorist Church last Sunday, the prelate said it pains him when he saw the consequences of mining on the agricultural areas of MacArthur town.
“Why are we ignoring things that are wrong? I went to MacArthur three days ago and what I saw was very painful and hurting. The rice fields are yet to bloom but they are being bulldozed,” the archbishop added in his homily.
He said he is wondering why officials are allowing irresponsible mining to happen in their place that would later threaten food security resulting to famine.
A close aid of the archbishop who refused to be identified for lack of authority said Archbishop Du has directed the Social Action Center of the bishopric to investigate on the mining situation in MacArthur, Leyte after hearing the predicaments of the townsfolk and queries from the media.
Cabias said Archbishop Du, who is also the incumbent treasurer of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), told them that he will intervene on the mining issue by consulting their local officials.
He said they were told by the prelate during a short dialogue that he will also bring the matter to President Benigno Aquino III.
“We are very blessed that our prayers are now being answered. This time, we are hoping that we will get justice despite being ignored by the government,” Cabias said.
He added they are still affected by the fish kill with nearly P2 million in estimated damage of the incident accounting to more than 22 tons of dead tilapia.
Cabias, who owns fish cages in Lake Bito, said they are yet to be compensated by the mining firm despite the mandate of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in the region to fully reimburse them of the damage.
The compensation order came following the result of the study by the Environmental Management Bureau in Eastern Visayas showing traces of oil in the lake as one of the causes of fish kill. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)