TACLOBAN CITY —The parish priest of Homonhon in Guiuan town, Eastern Samar has appealed to government officials, including President Duterte, to help stop the mining operations on the island.
According to Fr. Christian Ofilan, the mining activity has desecrated the place where Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, his Spanish army, and the missionaries first set foot on Philippine soil 500 years ago.
“I would like to use my small voice to call on our government leaders, from the mayor of Guiuan to President Rodrigo Duterte, to please stop desecrating our island,” he said in his homily on Wednesday.
On Thursday, President Duterte led the unveiling of the quincentennial marker of the world’s first circumnavigation led by Magellan and Juan Sebastian Elcano on March 17, 1521.
Ofilan, the parish priest of the St. John the Baptist Parish on Homonhon Island, said it is proper to preserve the island and keep it a sacred spot.
“Our ancestors consider our island as sacred and blessed. But what have we done after 500 years? We have desecrated it. We lost its sacredness because of our being irresponsible,” he said.
Homonhon is rich in mineral deposits like nickel and chromite, enticing miners to operate on the island.
While there are no active mining operations on the island, several mining companies have set up offices on Homonhon Island.
Among them were Techiron Resources, whose move to remove its stockpile of chromite in April 2020 sparked protest from the villagers.
Last year, another priest also decried the mining operations in MacArthur town, Leyte.
Fr. Amadeo Alvero said the mining activity involving black sand extraction in MacArthur could result in environmental destruction and affect its food security.
Alvero said he was consistent with one of the advocacies of the Church to protect the environment.
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