ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The "cry" of the inhabitants of Mindoro reaches COP28

Wednesday, 13 December 2023 human rights   ecology   laudato sì  

San Jose (Agenzia Fides) - Between white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, the Philippine island of Mindoro, south of Luzon, preserves its beauty and uniqueness. Precisely this beauty, granted by nature and the Creator, is a heritage that must be protected and saved, according to the Apostolic Vicar of San José in Mindoro, Father Pablito M. Tagura SVD, missionary of the Divine Word in charge of the pastoral care of the local communities. In this corner of the world, the sparkling seas surrounded by the lush mountains of the island, home to an indigenous population made up mostly of farmers and fishermen, are raising a cry that reaches all the way to the COP28 conference, where the international community is debating to "accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050." It is places like this, considered by many, Filipinos and non-Filipino, a paradisiacal oasis, that call for the commitment of all humanity to the "care of the common home", the protection of natural resources and the lives of the local populations, through a serious fight against climate change that can trigger irreversible disasters. Father Pablito M. Tagura notes: "Various extreme weather events and environmental catastrophes, such as the oil spill in the Mindoro Sea in February 2023, have already negatively affected the poor local population, especially fishermen. Their lives are turned upside down: although the situation is now under control, they are fighting to survive. A spontaneous movement aims to sensitize people and create more awareness among them. It is also up to us to do so, inspired by Laudato Si'. We are an island that for many is a paradise that must be saved". The Vicar explains that "there is a corridor intended for the transit of cargo ships, an arm of the sea called Green Island Pass, known for its precious marine biodiversity, which is being compromised by pollution. The local Church is called to say something and to act, in cooperation with civil society. "We spoke - he continues - with the governor of the province, pointing out the urgency of taking measures to protect the environment and safeguard Creation. At the base of the problem is an economy linked to fossil fuels. We are in favor of a transition towards sources of renewable and clean energy, but multinationals are there to extract gas and oil, they receive concessions from the central government and do not care about the lives of our people. The reasons for profit win, while the environment is ruined and compromised. The Conference Bishop of the Philippines has also raised the the problem. Pope Francis' Laudato si' document remains a point of reference for us because it traces the clear connection between the economy and an integral ecology, respectful of humanity, pointing the way towards environmental sustainability. There is, therefore, a moral problem, linked to corruption: the agreement between local elites and multinational companies is detrimental to the people, having as its sole objective the exploitation of natural and human resources," denounces Father Pablito M. Tagura. In this framework, he states, "we try to contribute to the organization of local communities: we need a common effort, an educational path, the National Episcopal Conference supports us, but then each diocese is called to act locally to protect their own communities, like ours, made up of simple people, farmers and fishermen, and to safeguard our common home". Numerous associations and civil society groups, including Cáritas, have come together to help the communities of the island of Mindoro by creating the national "Eco-Convergence" forum, in order to support above all the needs of local fishermen who see their business and survival in danger. The "Eco-Convergence" forum promotes the teachings of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si', and acts as an interlocutor for local and international political institutions. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 13/12/2023)