Mindoro activist priest named CBCP-NASSA’s executive secretary

An environmental activist priest of Mindoro has been named by the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines as executive secretary of its social action arm.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, coordinator of the Mangyan Mission, replaced Sr. Rosanne Mallillin as administrative head  of the National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (NASSA), the CBCP on Thursday announced.

As spokesperson of the Mindoro-based multisectoral group Alyansa Laban sa Mina, Gariguez has become a prominent figure in the fight against the $2.4 -billion mining project of Norway-based Intex Resources on the island.

In November last year, he joined a group of 25 Mangyans and community leaders from Mindoro who went on hunger strike in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head office in Quezon City to protest the DENR’s issuance of clearance for the Mindoro Nickel Project.

On their 11th day of protest fast, then secretary Lito Atienza yielded to pressure and ordered the temporary revocation of the project’s environmental compliance certificate to mine 11,216.6 hectares of land in Mindoro.

Gariguez, who hails from Malinao Ilaya in Atimonan, Quezon, said his appointment as executive secretary of NASSA is just a part of his priestly mission to serve the poor.

“When I become priest, I commit myself to the Lord’s call for a life of service, especially to the poor. And I accept this opportunity as my way of being true to my calling,” the 47-year-old Gariguez told The Mindoro Post.

He was ordained as priest on April 7, 1993 and incardinated to the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan.

The CBCP formed NASSA in 1966 as a response to the call of the Universal Church for renewal and social transformation. In 1969, “Justice and Peace” was attached to the institution’s name after the Vatican created the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and called for the establishment of local counterparts throughout the world.

NASSA slowly spread into different regions, eventually giving birth to the Diocesan Social Action Centers across the country. Currently, it has 85 DSACs responsible for coordinating social action activities in the parishes and Basic Ecclesial Communities of the Catholic church.

NASSA is chaired by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who in December 2008 joined farmers in their hunger strike  at the Batasang Pambansa complex to press demands for lawmakers to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, which was to expire then.

Malillin, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, served as NASSA’s executive secretary for nearly 17 years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s