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March 21, 2018, Pidpid, Porac, Pampanga, the Philippines – Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, the Philippines, stood in solidarity recently with indigenous peoples whose land has been taken from them for development.
The Sisters in the Remedies Mission Chapter, along with local Benedictine Sisters “are in the front line of support” for the united indigenous peoples, who have barricaded with rocks the road where trucks haul gravel and sand for development projects on the tribe’s ancestral land, said Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress.
Since January 30, the Aetas have established themselves in the barricaded area, putting up temporary grass huts to shield themselves from the heat, Sister Zenaida said. They have also set up an ongoing school at the barricade, indicating their intention to stay in the barricaded area as long as possible.
The indigenous Aeta Mag-indi and Aeta Mag-antsi tribes established their home in 1960 in the barrio (town) Camachilies. They were displaced in June 1991 with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and have since resettled in the nearby Pidpid area. “They no longer want to be thrown out by another disaster, which is now man-made and which is much more disastrous than the eruption of Mount Pinatubo,” Sister Zenaida said.
She noted that in 2006 the Aetas received a Certificate of Ancestral Domain title from the government of the Philippines, giving them title to 18,659.73 hectares (72.046 square miles) of land. But in 2009, because of development projects, the land was taken from them by local and foreign corporations that have established quarry operations there. This work has destroyed the natural habitat, leaving the Aeta’s water source polluted.
“A huge portion of this ancestral domain is being destroyed by these operators through quarrying and water pollution,” Sister Zenaida said. “While [these corporations] get millions in profits, the indigenous peoples are left with nothing except the destroyed natural environment.”
So far, she added, foreign and two Filipino-owned quarry operations have temporarily stopped their work, and the military have not been involved. “We pray that the quarry operations will be stopped completely.”
Watch a video from the barricaded area.
September 1, 2016, Adrian, Michigan — Five Adrian Dominican Sisters are attending the Jubilee International Congress on the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights: Past, Present, and Future. The Congress begins Thursday, September 1 and concludes Sunday, September 4 in Salamanca, Spain, at the Convent of San Esteban Protomártir.
Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, was invited to facilitate one of the workshops and to draft a policy paper that will form the basis for action by Dominican chapters, provinces, and congregations worldwide. Sister Pat's paper expands on human rights to include the rights of all of creation, drawing on her experience as founding director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, and on Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical, Laudato Sí.
The General Council asked two of our Sisters who work with children from displaced communities to participate: Basilia De la Cruz, OP, principal of Espíritu Santo Fe y Alegría School in Baní, Dominican Republic; and Jolyn "Jules" Dungo, OP, who ministers with the indigenous Aeta people at Villa Maria, Porac, Pampanga, in the Philippines.
Also invited to the Congress are Luisa Campos, OP, champion of human rights and founding director of Centro Antonio Montesino in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Durstyne Farnan, OP, past Justice and Peace Promoter for North America, currently ministering in peace and justice with the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The international Congress is intended for Dominicans who work in human rights and social justice ministry, academics and scholars specializing in human rights, leaders and faculty members of Dominican universities, those who work with indigenous peoples, and experts in international law.
The historic convent is the site of the School of Salamanca, where Dominican Friar Francisco de Vitoria, informed by the experience of Dominicans such as Antonio de Montesinos and Bartolomé de las Casas, articulated the beginnings of international human rights law by challenging the harsh treatment of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The Congress is intended to be part of the "Salamanca Process" initiated by the Dominican men at their last General Chapter to more closely link study and intellectual life with ministry. It will begin on Thursday evening with a keynote address by Bruno Cadoré, OP, Master of the Order.
Feature photo: Clockwise, from top left, Sisters Luisa Campos, OP, Durstyne Farnan, OP, Jolyn "Jules" Dungo, OP, and Basilia De la Cruz, OP, are all attending the Jubilee International Congress on the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights: Past, Present, and Future with Sister Pat Siemen, OP, Prioress.