DAVAO CITY – A resource center named after a local environment activist was formally opened to the public here on Saturday.

The Francis S. Morales Resource Center, Inc.  is a non-profit environmental organization “committed to empowering communities towards self-sufficiency and disaster preparedness,” said FSMRC board chairperson Dr. Jean Lindo.

Francis Morales was an environmental activist and an advocate of sustainable agriculture who died on November 12 last year due to lymphocytic leukemia.

Morales spent a lifetime in various causes, starting with the anti-dictatorship movement during Martial Law; as executive director and board member of the national group for sustainable agriculture Masipag; and later as executive director of the disaster rebuilding network Balsa Mindanao.

Morales’ last engagement was the establishment of the Daluyong National Network of Disaster Survivors in Tacloban City in time for the first anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda last year.

Lindo said that the formation of the center was out of the need to continue Morales’ legacy.

Morales, who was fondly called as Tatay Francis by his colleagues, started out as a seminarian, “but he chose to practice his Christian beliefs by directly serving the people and protecting the environment,” Lindo said.

“He played a big role in the growth of environmental rights group Panalipdan! Southern Mindanao, and was the executive director of BALSA Mindanao, a disaster response group which helped thousands of people ravaged by typhoons Sendong, Pablo, and Yolanda,” Lindo said.

One of the members of the board, Kim Gargar, said they wish to continue Morales’ active efforts during relief and rehabilitation for the typhoon survivors.

“All over Mindanao, the trend is the same: foreign companies are slowly encroaching on lands of poor peasants and the indigenous people (IP). As the environment continues to perish, more and more people become involved in the struggle for their life and livelihood as they realize that allowing these business projects to go unstopped will result to greater vulnerability when natural disasters strike the country, especially adversely affecting what remains of the region’s food security,” Gargar claimed.

The center focuses on the environment, food security, and scientific and mass culture.

It aims to help “increase the capacity of marginalized communities in terms of understanding their environmental problems” in order for them to be “more resilient from environmental disasters”.

Gargar said “it will do so by training them in sustainable agriculture and supporting them to attain food security.”

“We wish to show people the importance of protecting the environment. By doing so, we empower communities as genuine stewards of the environment,” Gargar said.

Lindo said Morales will always be remembered as “the man who stood up in defense of marginalized communities and the environment.”

The FSMRC held the ceremony Saturday afternoon at its office at Room 305, Doña Segunda Bldg., C.M. Recto Ave. in Davao City. (davaotoday.com)

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