GMA pays tribute to North Luzon bishops

DUPAX DEL NORTE, Nueva Vizcaya–President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday finally got her chance to personally thank her closest allies from the Catholic church in Northern Luzon who have stood by her side amid the recent political storm that has hit her administration.

Speaking at the thanksgiving mass during the 69th birthday celebration of Bishop Ramon Villena of the Catholic diocese here, the President thanked three other Catholic prelates for their roles in maintaining peace and political stability in the country.

The President was here Monday to join Villena in the conduct of a medical mission and giving away of goods to tribal peoples here in upland Belance village here.

Aside from Villena, three other north Luzon bishops–Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan and Auxiliary Bishop Ricardo Baccay, both of the diocese of Cagayan, and Bishop Rodolfo Beltran of Mt. Province and Ifugao–for being “beacons of stability” amidst the country’s latest political crisis.

“The country has listened to the calls of our bishops, as well as of many other religious leaders for a peaceful and constitutional ways of resolving the political issues, to stop excessive politicking and to jointly address the important problem of poverty,” she said in the Iloco dialect.

Talamayan, Villena and Beltran were among the first bishops in the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to issue a statement calling for “communal action for deep reflection, discernment, sobriety and for the way of peace” at the height of another political crisis triggered by the ZTE controversy.

“I thank you for helping the people to unite, and let them start a new chapter of transformation and renewal. I believe that the country can achieve strength by addressing the long-standing problems which have caused the nation difficulties and instability,” she told the bishops.

As a way of thanksgiving, the President promised to further improve Nueva Vizcaya and the whole of Cagayan Valley, as a primary rice- and vegetable-producing region.

She reserved her highest praises for the celebrant Villena: “Not only is he a beacon of stability, but also a champion for the life of our people especially the poor. This is why he chose to celebrate his birthday here in Belance.”

She highlighted the significance of the region’s agriculture production by quoting the latest report from the National Food Authority that Cagayan Valley posted a “remarkable increase” in rice production in the first quarter of 2008.

In 2007, the world’s production of rice has gone down because of climate change, Arroyo said. Cagayan Valley produced 2.8 million metric tons of rice last year, 800 million tons in the first quarter.

“But in the first quarter of 2008 alone, rice production has reached 1.7 million metric tons already,” she said.

“Thank you very much for your contribution to the rest of the Philippines because 70 percent of your production was exported to the rest of the country. This proves that the people of Cagayan Valley have a very important contribution to the Philippine economy,” the President told a crowd gathered at the Saint Joseph the Worker church here.

She promised to further boost the potentials of Belance, touted as the province’s vegetable basket, through a noodle-making project she has launched using vegetables as raw material.

“We hope that we can tap the help of our farmers, and this would also be helpful for them because wheat is becoming expensive. Vegetables are less costly, and even more nutritious than meat noodles,” she said.


4 thoughts on “Payback

  1. gday melvin a well balanced job melvin!! so mate why dont you get the truth the whole truth about what happened in didipio instead of stirring up problems !!go and find out what oceana gold is doing to help the locals!!it might do you good to hear the other side first hand without hatred or bias regards and best wishes eagle lover

  2. Thanks for the compliment.

    Mate, even if you don’t to tell me to go to Didipio, I go there on a regular basis. In fact, I just arrived from the site, before I read your comment.

    How about you, have you gone there? Have you listened to the people?

    I suggest you do so, so that you will personally hear the sentiments of the people of Didipio vis-a-vis what you said were “good things” that the company has been doing for them. Even OceanaGold project manager Jake Foronda, as well as the company’s own employees, who are locals, now have a high sense of admiration for those who oppose mining because they have refused to give in to the lure of money that the company is offering to them.

    I do not stir up conflicts. I suggest that before you make such irresponsible comments, go talk to them to see for yourself. The people will be more than glad to host you.

    I volunteer to be your guide.

  3. gday again melvin no im am not irresposible just debating you i have been told that the locals are divided so there is conflict between both parties the truth is liable to be somewhere between what both sides say there is admiration for those who dont give in there is also merit in those who wish for a better life with new schools and better education for all the local see ya in didipio regards eaglelover

  4. I did not say you were irresponsible. I said the statement is irresponsible.

    Frankly, I do not understand what you mean by “better life” with “new schools” and “better education”. You see, you, too, have been led to believe that OceanaGold brought heaven and earth to Didipio.

    If by “better life” you mean the hundreds of thousands of pesos that residents there received after giving up their rights over their land, well, I suggest you dig deeper. I am excited to show you an agreement that the company prepares to these landowners who, in the course of such “acquisition” of their land, they are barred from relocating to another site within OceanaGold’s project area, which is more or less 37,000 hectares. The same agreement also strips them of their right to repurchase because they have given OceanaGold the right to transfer the land to anyone after the mine life. It also bars them to participate in any mass action, or lodge any complaint now or in the future against the company. Is this “better life” to you?

    If by “better life”, you mean the supposed royalties and share from taxes that the local communities expect to receive when the project starts, consider this: Didipio is within a disputed portion of the provincial boundaries of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. By Philippine standards, and based on recent history, boundary disputes take decades to settle. If, under the law, the “host province” and “host municipality” is bound to get a certain percentage of such proceeds, which province will get the share? Our own national government officials here don’t have a clear answer. Do you?

    What “new schools” are you talking about? Are you referring to the Didipio Green Valley Institute that was put up by Climax Arimco? Come to Didipio and see with your own two eyes if this school is new.

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