A Stop to Mining call reverberated in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on January 20, 2024, with thousands of people from different parts of Samar and Leyte converging at the Immaculate Concepcion Church in Guiuan to express their sentiments against the destructive activities of mining on the island of Samar.

Spearheaded by the three (3) Dioceses of Samar, together with the support of the Philippine Misereor Partnership and Caritas Pilipinas, the contingents were welcomed by Rev. Fr. Antonio Alconaba, Team Ministry Head of the Parish, who indirectly gave a swipe at the local government’s perspective that mining in Guiuan is an issue of the local people for Guiuan and not the outsiders. He stressed that the impact of mining issues is not limited to the host community but to all areas because all are interconnected. He stressed that people need to care and become real champions of nature.

Rev. Fr. Jonathan Pading, Parish Priest of Homonhon, an island hosting five mining companies, also gave a passionate testimony on why mining should not be allowed in communities. He exposed how mining has negatively affected the lives of people, the source of water, and not only in terms of livelihood but also the division it causes in communities. He emphasized that mining is not good for communities, coming from his very own experience as a parish priest of Homonhon Island, despite the promise of progress for people.

Aivan Herzano, Project Officer of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), highlighted the importance of action to protect the environment given the continuing biodiversity loss and climate crisis and shared the need to recognize the Rights of Nature to protect nature better.

PMPI is the leading organization pushing to recognize the rights of nature in the Philippine judicial system. National Bills were filed in both chambers of Congress, and ordinances in 3 different municipalities. Herzano stressed that the rights of Nature demand a change in paradigm in the understanding and behavior of nature – from being just objects and property to a real living entity with all the specific rights needing protection just like humans.

On the one hand, Most Rev. Bishop Crispin Varquez of the Diocese of Borongan highlighted the government’s call to give premium and importance to nature and people rather than profit from mining and find cleaner alternatives to support energy and prop up the economy. He also challenged the faithful to live a simple lifestyle and to be stewards of the environment. To protect the environment proactively as they go through their everyday life.

As of now, a looming reality that mining activities in Samar may further intensify as reports to re-classifying even the major protected areas in Samar and declare it as multipurpose land, the Bishop said they will step up their campaign and engage in high-level discussion with top government officials regarding the issue of mining.

Here are some photos of the campaign calling for a stop to mining in the Samar Islands: