Philippine prelate issues environmental plea at Child Jesus feast

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu makes call as waste from South Korea is sent back to where it came from
Philippine prelate issues environmental plea at Child Jesus feast

Environmental activists call on the Philippine government to ban all types of waste importation as thousands of tons of waste from South Korea are shipped back to its country of origin. (Photo courtesy of EcoWaste Coalition)

A Philippine church official called for greater efforts in environmental protection during the Feast of the Child Jesus, the country's biggest religious festival.

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu criticized those who destroy the environment, saying that a true believer in the Santo Nino (Child Jesus) loves the environment.

"We don't haphazardly throw our trash anywhere," said the prelate, adding that a true devotee cares about the wellbeing of everyone, including the environment.

Celebrating Mass for the Feast of Santo Nino in Cebu, Archbishop Palma said protecting "our common home" is a Christian duty.

He said protecting the environment should recognize the interests of future generations. "The blessings that we have received are not for us but for our children’s children," he said.

"Taking all the fish and cutting down trees is stealing from future generations," added the archbishop. "We should also be charitable to our environment." 

The church official made the appeal after about 2,400 metric tons of garbage from South Korea that had been stored in Mindanao since 2018 were shipped back on Jan. 19.

Philippine environment groups, meanwhile, renewed their call for other countries to recycle their own waste.

"The reshipment of this falsely declared waste back to South Korea affirms our nation’s resolve to bring this dumping controversy to its just conclusion," said customs official John Simon.

Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said waste should be recycled, treated or disposed of in the country where such waste is generated.

"While we pursue ecological solutions to our domestic garbage woes, we must tell South Korea and other countries to deal with their own waste at home and stop exporting it to the Philippines and other Asian countries," said Lucero.

Archbishop Palma, meanwhile, warned that neglecting the environment would result in long-lasting and possibly irreversible damage.

Reiterating his call to protect the environment, the prelate said that "the wealth of the earth and seas aren’t just for us. They are for our children and their children."

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