Father Robert Reyes. He was noisy, yes. Not so visible like he was before very recent years, the running priest is back. Still noisy, yes.
He looks 2 decades younger than his actual age of 60 years. I presume his natural beauty and youth come from his being a true people person and living by his faith.
He says, “The roads are my pulpit. The trees are my altar. My church is the universe.”
Father Robert Reyes joined local environmentalists, journalists, a broadcaster, students and educators of the Northwestern University; and the lone representative of the provincial government, Board Member Joel Garcia, who was gentleman enough to stand up for his own personal beliefs, government’s position and the economic gains on the other side of the coin, at a forum, facilitated by the school’s KWAGO Society. PENRO de los Reyes, like in last year’s NWU environment forum, was a no show.
Social and environment advocate and researcher Shermon Cruz says, “The forum was aimed to provide key actors the space to discuss the issue and to collaborate in exploring alternatives and options to prevent the killing of 1200 trees covering around 60 hectares of forest land in Currimao. The purpose is to get the real score from proponents, advocates and governmental authorities on the issue and to engage concerned citizens and communities by increasing awareness on the tree cutting controversy in the province of Ilocos Norte.”
At the highly charged forum, a memorandum of partnership between the NWU-College of Arts and Sciences and the Ilocos Times (the oldest running community newspaper in Ilocos) was also signed to advance good governance, transparency and accountability in local development and environment management projects in the province of Ilocos Norte. “Like a watchdog, it hopes to impact the different aspects of policy-making and project development in the province,” adds Shermon Cruz.
“Who are willing to die for a tree?” Father Reyes asked.
I raised my hand. Who is afraid of dying for the life and strength of a tree? How many lives, how many thousands of trees have been murdered in the last 5 years or so?
Madonna Rabang Peta of DEFEND Ilocos comments about the just-concluded environment forum, “Nagpapakita lamang ito na dumadami na ang mamamayan ng Ilocos Norte na nagtatanggol sa kalikasan sa hanay ng mga kabataang estudyante, mula sa akademiya at kasama na rito ang mga taong simbahan. Patunay lamang ito na lumalawak na ang naabot na kampanya ng mamamayan ng Ilocos Norte kasama na ang mga na ang mga komunidad kung saan sila ang direktang apektado sa epekto ng pagkasira ng kalikasan.”
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