Tagbilaran prelate urges Bohol’s 3 solons to support passage of Rights of Nature bill

By Chito Chavez 

The Bishop of the Diocese of Tagbilaran on Saturday urged all the three district representatives of Bohol province to support the passage of Rights of Nature bill which was filed last November 25 at the House of Representatives by Quezon City Sixth District Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte.

Tagbilaran, Bohol Bishop Alberto Uy (St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Jagna, Bohol / MANILA BULLETIN) Tagbilaran, Bohol Bishop Alberto Uy
(St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Jagna, Bohol / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Rev. Alberto S. Uy, D.D. sent an official letter to First District Rep. Edgar M. Chatto, Second District Rep. Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado, and Third District Rep. Kristine Alexie B. Tutor on November 29, asking them pledge their support for the passage of the Rights of Nature Bill.

Uy has also appealed to all Boholanos to remain steadfast in protecting mother nature which they've done through the passage of several local ordinances like the Bohol Organic Agriculture Code, the Bohol GMO-Free Ordinance, Bohol Environment Code of 1998, as well as their most recent victory against coal-fired power plants through meaningful collaboration of the government, common people, and the church.

The Rights of Nature is a campaign spearheaded by the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) in cooperation with NASSA/Caritas Philippines. In the July 2019 People’s Congress organized by PMPI and NASSA, a loose movement called the Rights of Nature PH was established where more than 50 environmental organizations committed to push the Rights of Nature (RoN) campaign.

Fr. Warly Salise, director of the Social Action Center of Tagbilaran, which is a PMPI partner, emphasized the importance of community participation in protecting the environment.

"The church, just like any other entity, community or individual cannot turn away from opportunities towards protecting the environment and recognizing the rights of nature, the church should be in the forefront," Salise said.

A Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) pastoral letter on ecology released on July 16 has also included a provision for the rights of nature.

"The recognition of the Rights of Nature is at the core of the call for ecological conversion, as Pope Francis emphasized in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. There he suggested that a “true right of the environment‟ does exist because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity," stated from the nine-page pastoral letter.

The RoN campaign aims to recognize nature to have its own legal rights just like humans and business corporations through the passage of the RoN Bill.

It also advocates for a change in development paradigm, a shift from unsustainable economic and political policies favoring big business and extractive industries to advocating for a change in lifestyle and green living.

The inspiration came from Latin American countries like Ecuador and Bolivia as both countries recognize RoN through their constitution and a national law.

In the Senate of the Philippines, Senator Risa Hontiveros filed the RON bill last October 2. Advocates are hoping to get support from other lawmakers in the senate.