Priest raises environmental concerns on Divine Mercy construction in Sirao

Priest raises environmental concerns on Divine Mercy construction in Sirao
Photos from Councilor Jun Alcover's Facebook account

WHILE other sectors see pilgrimage and tourist sites beneficial, a priest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu has provided a different perspective in relation to expression of faith on the construction of an image of the Divine Mercy in Sitio Proper, Barangay Sirao, which sparked various opinions among netizens.

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Fr. Loreto Jaque, who is dedicated to the mental health ministry of the Church and conducts expressive therapy sessions in various mental health facilities across Cebu City, shared on his Facebook account that despite 500 years of celebrating Christianity, believers still tend to focus heavily on tangible expressions of faith, such as images, ponder debates on Christian morality, and where certain practices may be found in Holy Scripture, without realizing that the earth itself is what is being written in scripture.

“Hangtud kanus-a man ta makaamgo nga ang spirituality dili lang na sige’g pagtukod og daghang rebolto aron didto ta magsige’g duko-duko or magrosary, kun dili, mag apil gyod unta na sa pag amping ug pag amoma sa pinuy-anan sa mga dili tawo, sama aning mga unggoya,” Jaque said.

(Until when do we realize that spirituality is not just about building many images where we can keep bowing down or say the rosary, but also includes taking care of the habitat of animals, such as these monkeys.)

Jaque was referring to the project in Sitio Proper, Barangay Sirao where a massive image of the Divine Mercy is being constructed. Monkeys were sighted in the area.

On Sunday, February 11, Cebu City Councilor Pastor “Jun” Alcover Jr., chairman of the committee on senior citizens, posted in his Facebook account his visit to Divine Mercy Mountain Chapel for Prayer and Healing in Barangay Sirao.

“Puhon, mahimo na sad ni nga tourist attraction (This will soon turn into a tourist attraction),” Alcover said in a Facebook post.

Alcover’s post was reposted by different local media outlets in Cebu, gaining several comments from netizens.

Destruction of habitat

Jaque said the construction of these religious images was carried out without consideration for the impact on the local environment and wildlife.

He said he is more concerned of the destruction of natural habitats for various species of animals that have long called these hills their home.

He highlighted the particular plight of the monkeys in the area, which are losing their habitat due to the ongoing construction activities.

“Mas naluoy ko’s mga unggoy nga kawad-an og pinuy-anan kaysa mga tawo nga sakay-sakay lang unya sa ilahang mga nindot ug mahalon nga sakyanan, manaka aning mga bukira aron mag ampo, mag picnic inig ka human, mag picture-picture aron mapost sa ilahang Facebook ug Instagram,” Jaque said.

(I feel more sorry for the homeless monkeys than the people who just ride around in their beautiful and expensive cars, climb these mountains to pray, have a picnic, and take pictures which will be posted on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.)

Not destruction but development

On Tuesday, February 13, Alcover addressed the concerns pertaining to the site development and sightings of monkeys in Barangay Sirao in a press conference.

Alcover said several individuals were not happy with what was done in Sitio Proper, Barangay Sirao, because it destroyed the environment, resulting in the shrinking of the natural habitat of those monkeys.

Alcover said the destruction of the monkeys' habitat can be overcome by the positive side of the ongoing civil works.

He said the area was developed for spiritual purposes and at the same time can attract tourists and also help the monkeys.

He said the intention is not to destroy the place to make the monkeys disappear, stressing that the term is not destruction but development, onsite development.

“Nindot ang maong lugar as a tourist spot (The place is good as a tourist spot),” Alcover said.

Alcover said there will be economic benefits to having the pilgrimage site, aside from being a religious site.

“Nalipay pud ang barangay kay kun mahuman na ang maong lugar ug mahimong na kini’g usa ka tourist attraction maka generate na kini’g economic activity. Kadtog mga habalhabal driver ug uban pa, makabenepisyo,” he said.

(The barangay is also happy because when the construction is done and the area becomes a tourist attraction, it will generate economic activity. Those habalhabal drivers and others will benefit.)

Alcover noted that if the intention was to destroy the monkeys’ habitat and remove them, they would have already died because it has been almost three years since the civil works started.

According to Alcover, before the area was developed, some farmers would be upset because these monkeys would steal their corn and other crops.

When the construction started, Alcover said the monkey population had increased because they were being fed by the workers responsible for the development.

He added that these monkeys were happier because they had someone feeding them, and the farmers were also happy because they no longer had to worry about their farms.

“Wild ng mga unggoy. Naturally, molikay jud sila’g tawo, apan ang nahitabo karon kun adunay tawo, maggawas sila, magpakita sila apan dili sila mopaduol ug magpahikap,” Alcover said.

(Those monkeys are wild. Naturally, they avoid people, but what happened now is when there are people, they go out, they show themselves but they don't come close and allow people to touch them.) (AML)


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.