Monday, January 19, 2009

A pastoral call for environmental protection

To our brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro:

During this period of calamity I would first like to express my solidarity and prayers for all those families who have been displaced by the sudden floods. These first occurred on January 3 with the swelling of the Cagayan de Oro river. Then on January 11 until now flash floods have taken place more extensively throughout various parts of the city and several municipalities in Misamis Oriental.

As of the latest reports more than 75,000 persons have been displaced and 44 barangays in the city have been affected.

In visiting some of the displaced families that have been forced to seek shelter in chapels or formation centers of the church or community centers in the barangays, I see the faces of children with their mothers waiting patiently for some assistance.
On the other hand, I am also heartened to see many parish communities mobilizing to distribute relief goods among those displaced communities.

Many individuals, companies and organizations have also sent their assistance in goods or in cash to the Bishop’s House or directly to the parishes affected by the floods. These are indeed signs of solidarity and brotherhood regardless of religious or cultural differences.

Even as we attend to the immediate needs of displaced families, we must not lose sight of the long term factors that have aggravated the effects of natural calamities. Among these man-made factors are:

• Continued logging operations in the upstream areas of the city; these include the more remote areas of the city and watershed areas in the ARMM region and Bukidnon

• Hydraulic flush mining that have caused the heavy siltation of Iponan river and its tributaries

• Small scale and large scale mining in other upland areas of the city

• Lack of solid waste management that has led to clogging of the city’s drainage canals

• Similarly housing developments that have obstructed the natural flow of water

These and many other factors have to be reviewed carefully by public officials with the participation of civil society groups. The church and other parish communities are ready to join and support all these efforts for a safer, cleaner and brighter Cagayan de Oro and surrounding areas.

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