Ecology marchers celebrate feast of St. Francis
|Franciscans march along the streets of Quezon City to call for environmental protection and conservation (Photo by John Francis Lagman)|
ABOUT 1,000 followers of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology, yesterday braved the rain and marched around Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City to celebrate his feast, dramatizing their appeal to stop environmental abuse and misuse.
Carrying the statue of Saint Francis and placards, Franciscan friars led the procession from Stella Maris College to Poor Clare Monastery, followed by Franciscan sisters, seminarians, parishioners, students and devotees.
The “ecology marchers” want a stop to logging and mining, and to save the forests. They also ask the government to clean up corruption in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and immediately protect the City of Marikina, which has been worst-affected by flash floods.
Handouts given to motorists and pedestrians noted the “extraordinary” floods and typhoons brought about by global warming and man-made environmental destruction. “Only 3 percent of the virgin forest or primary forest is remaining in the Philippines. This is equivalent to only 900,000 hectares out of the country’s 30 million land area. What we need is 50 percent forest,” a statement read.
“Logging and land conversion is continuous despite the laws protecting them. There is no political will to stop ‘powerful people’ behind the environmental degradation in Aurora, the Region III and the Marikina watershed. It’s been two years since typhoon Ondoy, shall we always fear of the great flood?” it said. “Saint Francis of Assisi met God through the environment and he treated it as his brother. He denounced greed and joyfully trusted God’s providence through a vow of poverty,” it added.
Franciscan Father Pedro Montallana said Filipinos need to be awakened and defend the environment. “We are asking for the help of Saint Francis. We want him to know that like him, we love the environment,” he told the marchers. Father Montallana, the director of the Indigenous People’s Apostolate of the Prelature of Infanta, said he’s very happy that the Franciscan family participated in the march. “I was not expecting much; more and more awakening of the need to campaign for the environment as Franciscans,” he told ucanews.com.
Father Montallana said he is hoping that more people will be awakened to stop particularly the law being made in Congress, which will include logging in secondary forest. “That means more floods, landslides and drought during summer.”