Monday, April 30, 2012

Green Pope, Green Code

I just finished reading my newly acquired book called “Ten Commandments for the Environment: Pope Benedict XVI Speaks Out for Environment” written by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker. Koenig-Bricker is the former editor of Catholic Parent magazine and she is the author of three other spiritual books. Published and distributed by Paulines Publishing House in 2011, the book is a good read for all those who desire for a sustainable future. It is about the Holy See’s views and teachings on creation and environmental responsibility including Holy Father’s theological reflections and quotations.

In the book’s foreword Bill McKibben rightfully observed, “The Catholic Church has often been slow to engage on issues – but once engaged, it can be a powerful source. …. [Pope’s] message is neither liberal nor conservative, it is just plain hopeful.” BXVI is rightfully called the ‘greenest” pope but among his Ten Commandments for Environment, due to my present work, I can relate well to his sixth commandment. It reads, “The politics of development must be coordinated with the politics of ecology, and every environmental cost in developmental projects must be weighted carefully.” This statement helped me connect its wisdom to the presently implemented Environmental Code of LGU-Sablayan initiated by Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano when he was still the vice mayor along with the rest of the local legislative council and the former LCE. If Catholics have a “Green Pope” in BXVI, in municipality of Sablayan, we have a “Green Code” aimed at keeping the town ecologically intact and viable.

But do not get me wrong. I am not comparing anybody to the Roman Pontiff for that would be a stupid thing do. All I wish to say is that, like any other LGUs, we have a working environmental charter that is in some ways go hand in hand with the teachings of the Church pertaining to environmental protection.

Municipal Ordinance No. 2008-003 is an ordinance enacting the Environmental Code of Sablayan. The local charter consists of important details on usage and protection of natural resources, specifically, forest, mineral, and water including solid waste management, ecotourism and land-use planning. This was signed December 8, 2008. The Environmental Code has this as one of the principles: “People are mere stewards of God’s gift of nature’s bounty tasked with its judicious utilization for the future generation; All development activities shall give due importance and respect to the cultures and practices of the indigenous communities and people’s belief system, incorporate gender equity and population concerns consistent with ecological principles…”

The Compendium of Social Teachings of the Church initiated by the present pope makes this responsibility clear: “An economy respectful of the environment will not have the maximization of profits as its only objective, because environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits.” Rightfully so, any economic development must be consonant with environmental protection and not only aimed at boosting government revenue. Economic development must be secondary and guided by strict ecological standards. Those are the same principles behind the “Green Code” of Sablayan. This is what every local chief executive and legislator should be aware of specially those who are in ecologically fragile island provinces such as ours. We ordinary citizens are not spared.

Because if we fail to do so, if we do not collectively struggle against foreign intruders out to destroy our natural resources, we become Occidental Mindoro’s most deadly air pollutants or toxic wastes.…

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