27 February 2017
To the Ateneo de Davao University Community:
As we begin this year’s holy season of Lent, let us call to mind God’s love as it is manifested through our environment, our common home. God has revealed his love for us through the Earth, a gift He endowed with goods that sustain us, a gift He entrusted to our stewardship.
This Ash Wednesday, let us follow the example of St. Francis, who looked upon the stars, who surveyed the innocence and beauty of animals, and responded to nature’s wonders with awe and fraternity, “not with the scrutiny of a scientist, nor the utilitarian eye of an economist. His response was that of reverence – of a deep and relational respect based on kinship and fraternity, the kinship with God, our neighbor, and the land spoken of in the book of Genesis and praised throughout the gospels and the psalms.” (Cardinal Peter Turkson)
Like St. Francis, our relationship with the environment should not be driven by our need to own and consume. Our relationship with the environment should be drawn from respect and reverence to our common home. As the Earth has sustained us, so should we sustain it. Let us remember that “we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.”
On March 1, 2017, the Commission on Appointments is reportedly set to hear the appointment of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Paz Lopez. However, her appointment is at risk of being disapproved due to her relentless effort to fulfill the department’s mission to protect the environment from the destructive mining industry.
Mining has always been a destructive industry much more as it inflicts suffering and injustice to its affected communities. Thus, we see it as a great opportunity and a blessing to have a DENR Secretary who has a genuine passion for the environment and the people. After so many administrations, we are glad to have someone who can truly administer the mandate of her office – to protect, conserve, and sustainably manage the country’s environment and natural resources for the benefit of the present and future generations.
We stand by her decision to close existing mining activities within watershed areas and cancel Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) of corporations that violate the laws. As DENR Secretary, it is her duty to promote social justice and uplift the right of the people to a healthy and balanced ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature as enshrined in our Constitution.
Answering the call of stewardship for the environment, I invite the Ateneo de Davao University community to join me in participating in the mass mobilization, Kumpirma: People’s Confirmation of Secretary Gina Lopez, on March 1, 2017. The assembly time will start at 3:00PM at Ateneo de Davao University Roxas Entrance.
Kumpirma hopes to bring the people who care for the common home together who shall grant the confirmation to Sec. Gina Lopez as DENR chief, even if the CA decides otherwise.
You may bring your own environmentally friendly banners and placards, and use the hashtag #ConfirmSecGina. You are also strongly encouraged to wear green as a sign of unity to our call!
Should you have inquiries about the event, please contact Mark Peñalver at 2994552 or 09494478167, or Dadong Gumatao at 2212411 local 8262 or 09323681546.
As Lent begins, may we respond to God’s call to repent and reconcile ourselves with God, with one another, and with his creation. We abuse the environment only in sinning against the Creator and disrespecting one another. We destroy the environment only in ignoring its Creator and hurting each other. We destroy the environment in not acting to defend it and its defenders. We kill our future by failing to stand up for what God wills in his creation and what we all need in flowing rivers, verdant pastures, majestic mountains, fresh water for drinking and clean air for breathing.
Sincerely in our Lord,
(sgd)Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J.