Balsa Mindanao calls for climate justice and a stop to imperialist plunder

Apr. 27, 2012

April 22, 2012

Balsa Mindanao calls for climate justice and a stop to imperialist plunder

(CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY) –  Around 7,000 typhoon Sendong survivors, farmers, indigenous peoples, and environmental advocates, from the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro staged a march rally here on April 21 to express their opposition to the systematic plunder of the country’s natural resources by foreign companies.

Carrying placards that read “No to Imperialist Mining” and “Oppose Corporate Plantation and Expansion” and “No to Another Sendong”, the rallyists braved the summer heat as they marched from Gaston Park to the Provincial Capitol.  They were joined by a thousand of supporters coming from different sectors and groups like the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and the indigenous peoples group Kalumbay.

The march-rally, which was spearheaded by Balsa Mindanao, was held in observance of the 42nd  anniversary of Earth Day.  Balsa Mindanao is a humanitarian network of individuals and groups that was formed after the Sendong tragedy struck Iligan and Cagayan de Oro on December 16 last year.

Balsa Mindanao has already done relief and rehabilitation operations and psycho-social sessions  among the victims in various evacuation sites in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.  It has also helped form the Survivors’ Collectives which aims to promote self-help approaches as survivors try to rebuild lives and seek adequate resettlement.

Representative Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna told the rallyists that the large gathering served as a clear message to the government to stop large-scale foreign mining and logging operations and scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

Environment groups and researchers say that the Sendong tragedy was an aftermath of plantation and mining and logging operations in adjacent places in the provinces of Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur.

Balsa Mindanao’s demand for climate justice means making extractive and  industries accountable for climate change and resulting environmental disasters, and promoting pro-people and ecologically-sound practices and systems.

An ecumenical gathering was also held after the rally where an Earth Day statement of Cagayan de Oro bishops was read.

The statement, among others, called for a comprehensive scientific study of the river basin and watersheds of Cagayan de Oro River and adjoining tributaries; an impact assessment of mining and logging, including large-scale upland plantations, on environmentally-fragile areas within a proximate radius from the city center, the implications of a ridge-river-reef approach in conserving our waterways; and how extractive activities impact on an island ecology.

The statement was signed by Roman Catholic Bishop Antonio Ledesma, S.J of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Felixberto Calang, IFI Bishop Rudy Juliada, Bishop Genesis Udang of the Philippine Council of the Evangelical Churches (PCEC), Bishop Melzar Labuntog of the United Church of Christ in thePhilippines (UCCP), and Rev. Samuel Domingo of the United Methodist Church (UMC).#

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