An artist in the central Philippines has created an image of an "Environmental Jesus Christ" from confiscated guns, bullets, and debris left behind by Super Typhoon Haiyan
in 2013. The six-meter tall image of the crucified Christ weighs 1.5-tons and stands on top of a hill inside the police regional headquarters in the town of Palo, in Leyte province. Lucky Salayog, the 31-year-old artist, said his work shows the "destruction caused by mankind to Mother Nature." The artwork, commissioned by the region's police director, aims to show how environmental devastation brought about by people is being stopped by law enforcers. "The underlying message of the firearms is a call for a stop to violence," said Salayog, adding that everyone should work for the promotion of peace.
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Father Virgilio Canete of Palo Archdiocese, however, has questioned the artwork's message. "Is this an attempt to justify or divert the issue [of drug-related killings
]?" said the priest. Human rights groups allege that about 12,000 suspected drug users
and dealers have been killed in a police-led anti-illegal drugs campaign that started in 2016. "Explanations [and] clarifications are in order," said the priest. Salayog said his "environmental Jesus Christ" sculpture is inspired by the vulnerability of the Eastern Visayas region to natural calamities. "The catastrophes have taken a toll on the lives of people," he said, adding that there are ways to lessen the impact of calamities. The sculpture, which is made from "scrap and debris from destruction," symbolizes the ability of people "to rise up after devastation," said the artist. Every part of the artwork has a story to tell, he said. Police officers of Eastern Visayas region in the central Philippines pose for a souvenir photo below the sculpture of an "Environmental Jesus Christ" in Palo, Leyte. (Photo by Roel Amazona)
The region's six provinces are represented by six rifles, while two chainsaws supposedly represent the "doubled commitment" of the police "to uphold humanity and fight man-made destruction." The body of the image is composed of 365 pistols confiscated by the police while rifle magazines and a piece of wood from a destroyed police headquarters formed the cross. "Four environmental concerns" that need to be addressed — water issues, air issues, waste pollution, and land pollution — are represented by four horns. The country's top "environmental problems" — pollution, global warming, overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, and problems in waste disposal — are represented by five vehicle mufflers. The 164 bullet holes that form the words INRI on top of the cross are supposed to represent the number of people who died during Typhoon Vinta in December 2017. Incorporated in the sculpture are sawmill blades and machetes used in the illegal cutting of trees by loggers. A chemical container and engine parts represent harmful gases emitted into the air. Barbed wire was also used to symbolize the division of people, while a chain represents the strength that can arise from a united community. "This is a project that I really like," said police regional director Gilberto Cruz. "I noticed that most people are not aware that we should take care of our environment," said the police chief, adding the artwork is his gift to the region.