KASAMA Vol. 12 No. 2 / April-May-June 1998 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
Defending the Interests of People and the Environment
These are the issues facing the people of Negros island in the Visayas region of the Philippines, prompting the "Promotion of Awareness to Defend the Environment and Peoples' Interest". This project is conducted by the National Secretariat of Social Action and supported by Caritas Australia. It aims to raise the consciousness of the general public and encourage the clergy and religious to take concrete action for ecology.
A highlight of the project has been the launch of an island-wide caravan of 80 vehicles and 750 people from all walks of life including students, academics, religious, farmers, and professionals. In towns visited by the caravan, rallies and programs were conducted to deepen people's understanding of a range of issues regarding people and environment.
Several successful actions arising from the project include a people's protest which stopped the construction of a cement plant in the town of Siaton. More than 20,000 people participated in a rally in Bago City which prevented the construction of a coal fired power plant. Protests against the exploration of the Philippines National Oil Company and Western Mining Corporation have also taken place.
The campaign has prompted the Philippine Senate to conduct an investigation into environmental damage resulting from the New Mining Act of 1995 for possible legislative amendments.
Reprinted from the Newsletter of Caritas Australia No. 74, 1998
Top: The caravan is welcomed. Above: Rally in Bayawan, Negros Oriental.