Philippines: Bishops win campaign to save island forest

 The Filipino government has bowed to the demands of seven bishops determined to protect the rich biodiversity of Samar, southern Philippines. For more than a month, the diocese of Borangan (Eastern Samar), its bishop Leonardo Medroso, clergy and lay people, conducted a campaign to stop the resumption of logging on the island of Samar. Recently they were joined by bishops from neighbouring dioceses in their protest. A 16-year logging permit was given by the Department of Environment and Natural Resource secretary, Michael Defensor, to a private timber firm, San Jose Timber Corporation on 15 August. The bishops objected because the logging area lies in the heart of a natural park. They said it would cause deforestation and soil-erosion, which would adversely affect the lives of people on Samar Island, which has 95,770 hectares of forest. After a two-hour dialogue on 2 December, with the bishops, Defensor bowed to their demand and said the government would not allow the resumption of logging on the Island. The prelates involved in the campaign were: Archbishop Pedro Dean of Palo, Bishop Medroso, Bishop Jose Palma of Calboyog, Bishop Emmanuel Trance of Catarman (North Samar), Bishop Filomeno Bacbl of Naval, Auxiliary Bishop Isabelo Abarquez of Palo and Bishop Emeritus Angel Hobayan of Catarman.

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