Gov’t must protect common good – Tagle

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MANILA, May 10, 2013— The country’s lone cardinal on active service said the government’s economic programs should not end up hurting the poor. 

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the government should put supremacy on common good over its supposed economic programs.   

“Real progress is the one that promotes the dignity, integrity of the people and helps the poor,” Tagle said. 

The cardinal’s message was read during yesterday’s Mass at the Quiapo Church for 150 farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous people who are calling for the scrapping of an economic hub in Aurora province. 

He also urged the government to consider the concerns of all the stakeholders of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Apeco) project.

“In the ongoing review (of the Apeco project), may all the voices be heard and let’s work together towards a reasonable development,” said Tagle. 

“Like what I said before, we are calling on everyone to calmly search for the common good,” he added. 

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who led the liturgical celebration, reiterated his call for a moratorium on the ecozone’s operation. 

The project, he said, is a waste of public funds and a danger to the livelihoods of Aurora’s poor. 

Fr. Joefran Talaban, parish priest of Casiguran town, said that since 2010, the lands and livelihoods of more than 3,000 families there have been threatened by the Apeco project. 

Apeco is a 12,923-hectare Freeport through the government’s passage of R.A. 9490 in 2007, and vastly expanded by R.A. 10083 in 2010. 

The project has since been embroiled in controversy due to the opposition of Casiguran residents who stand to be displaced by the project, as well as the numerous laws that the ecozone has accused to have been transgressing such as the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, Fisheries Code and Asset Reform Law. 

The Casiguran marchers are back again in Manila to demand the accomplishment of President Aquino III’s promises that he would look into their concerns against the Apeco. (CBCPNews)

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