Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Another Chasing Game
We have been chasing them again in their series of consultations with different barangay (village) officials in respective areas where they would conduct the so-called 2D Seismic Survey. I am pertaining to the people of Department of Energy (DOE) and the Pitkin Petroleum PLC. Pitkin Petroleum is an exploration firm producing on a small-scale basis in Louisiana, USA but with assets in offshore Vietnam and Peru. The company’s drilling activities in an exploration bloc in Vietnam, where it has a 40 percent stake, are scheduled to commence by the end of 2009. Here in Occidental Mindoro, a total of 645,000 has. from Sablayan, Calintaan, Rizal, Magsaysay and San Jose is placed under Service Contract No. 53.
They were in Central last week and from Friday intil yesterday they came for the same meeting in Camburay, La Curva and San Isidro (formerly Canwaling). The objective of the meeting is to talk with the identified owners of the land or lot where the survey will be conducted. The Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) once again registered their objection to the project citing different moral, social, practical and environmental reasons. They were all supported by their respective parish priests and the nuns assigned in the area. In August 4, 2009, His Excellency Bishop Antonio P. Palang, SVD,DD of Occidental Mindoro issued a Statement renewing the stand of the local Church against Petroleum Service Contract No. 53. We are challenged by our bishop to do necessary legal and non-violent actions and adhere to the Social Teachings of the Church to oppose the project. The Provincial Government is in favor of said DOE project. In their Resolution No. 56, S. 2008 is emphasized that while they are up against large scale mining activities in Sablayan, they exclude the exploration of natural gas and oil in said objection.
We were not allowed to participate in their meeting and we did not gate-crash either. We just had a little program inside each chapel ended by praying of the Holy Rosary. All of the barangays mentioned have already issued individual Resolutions favoring the project but the people were not generally consulted. We will not only sit down in prayers. As a next course of action, we intend to talk to the shot-hole "holders” or go right down to the fields (or areas of the survey) if needed, aside from lobbying, sustaining our community-based formation activities and pressure politics.
I would like to connect this issue on the global problem of climate change. All of the countries in the world depends on energy, but cannot continue on the current path of unsustainable growth and pollution. Climate change is not an insurmountable problem but we have to beat the clock and so the whole world needs to move towards sustainable development and accelerate clean technology. This technology must be prioritized by the government, specifically its energy department. Because exploration and extraction or exploiting natural resources in the Philippines, particularly when it involves foreign companies, can often be sensitive and as well destructive,- socially, culturally, economically and politically.
We in the Church including Mangyan leaders and other local pro-environment POs, NGOs and LGUs are not against development and progress but development and progress must be gained in a responsible manner and must ensure the sustainability of resources and the future of our children. Oil Exploration and agriculture cannot go together. There is a Filipino saying, “Kailanman ang langis at tubig at hindi mo mapag-hahalo.” (You cannot mix water with oil). Water and land are the two basic necessities in agriculture, and oil and petroleum exploration must be taken out of the map!
Consequently then, we are opposing any destructive form of development and progress where investment and employment come only in short-term basis. We opposed to development that disregards and neglects the long-term negative impact of such development on both the environment and humanity.
As long as this project is not presented to the majority of the people of community and you continue to divide our us Mindorenyos,- we will be forever chasing you even in your nightmares. Your local cohorts, included!
We will forever be united in shouting : “Pitikin ang Pitkin!”…
(Photo : SSC File. Taken inside the Camburay Chapel)