“We are not blind”
The people who are the primary victims of mining in Samar continue to call out to the government to stop mining in their areas.
The church, led by Bishop Crispin Varquez of the Borongan Diocese, initiated a “Jericho Walk” on August 7, from Borongan capitol grounds to the cathedral, to call on the government to put an end mining operations in Samar Island, particularly in the historic island of Homonhon.
The Jericho Walk originated over 3,000 years ago, as an intentional prayer walk around the walls of Jericho to defeat their enemy.
At least 2,000 people were believed to have joined the prayer rally in hopes that the government would hear their pleas.
In a statement released on August 7, Varquez called on the Eastern Samar provincial government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to disapprove all mining applications and cancel the existing ones in the province.
“Destroying the earth is never part of God’s plan. As Pope Francis puts it, the Earth is our common home,” Varquez stated.
At present, four mining companies are operating on the island: Cambayas Mining Corp., Techiron Resources, Inc., Emir Mineral Resources Corp., and Mt. Sinai Exploration and Development Corp.
Unfortunately, even the local government of Guiuan appears to be as helpless as the locals who are against the issuance of permits to these companies. But these "permits" have allegedly been approved and issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as well as the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB), on the national level.
“I don’t think it’s in the LGU’s power to totally stop it. It will take time, but what we can do is how do we make it so that we are working with the community and the community’s needs in terms of environment,” Kinna Kwann, Municipal Administrator, previously told OpinYon 8 during the Eastern Visayas local gov’ts, civil society lead in climate action, biodiversity conservation at Summit Hotel, Tacloban City.
It remains a puzzle how Homonhon will achieve ecotourism target and keep biodiversity in place considering that the mining damage in the island appears to have expanded over time.
Even the water sources in the island have been showing signs of being affected. The spring at Cantelado, Pagbabangnan which Pigafetta referred to as "The watering place of good signs!" when they landed on the island, there are now days where its murky, far from the clear potable water it once was.
Rich in history and natural resources
Aside from the island’s historical relevance, the 20-kilometer stretch of land has been known to be rich in nickel and chromite.
This led to the early mining activities in the 1990s. Starting as open pit mining, this continues today despite obvious opposition from locals and advocates.
What will stop the mining in the island?
As of now, no one really knows. It appears that concerned government offices are on the side of the giants rather than helping and supporting its people and working towards their welfare.
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