BEC-Based Social Action Program: The Archdiocese of Pampanga

A VIGILANT BEC SPELLED SUCCESS

To prepare for the project design for the Diocese of Pampanga, a COPAR training was conducted which subsequently identified these areas of concerns that need: livelihood, sustainable agriculture, environment, microfinance and health. These findings became the focus of the Empowering Marginalized Sectors through BEC-based Integral Evangelization Program.

Appropriate seminars were conducted to make BECs more aware of human rights, children’s right and child abuse. A total of 251 BEC members and 78 non-BEC members participated in these seminars. A help desk, CAPIU was established to assist BECs encountering human rights-related problem. Three BEC members already benefited from this program.

Another program centerpiece is Sustainable Agriculture were seven out of ten BEC farmer participants who attended the exposure and seminar training in Bangued, Abra applied in their individual farms what they have learned. As a result, a trial farm that also serves as a community seedbank was established housing at least 50 rice varieties suited for either wet or dry seasons.

For its part, the microfinance program aims to develop credit maturity, create opportunities for self-employment through capital assistance scheme that will respond to the needs of BEC members. BEC members attended various trainings, information dissemination and workshops.

The health concern includes prevalent illnesses-respiratory-related diseases and upper tract infections –and lack of access to low cost healthcare. Prevalent diseases were traced to the air pollution created by the operation of Trust Industrial and Paper Corporation (TIPCO), a paper milling company that is said to be operating a coal plant in its premises.

Concerning on its campaign for clean air and environment integrity, The Lord’s Resurrection Parish petitioned to defer the operation of TIPCO’s coal-fired power plant in Bundagul, Mabalacat. The clergy and 14 BEC communities circulated a position paper calling for the cancellation of TIPCO’s ECC. Through the vigilant and concerted efforts of the BECs in line with NASSA’s BEC-based program, TIPCO finally ceased its operation.

On the same note, the Parish of Sto. Domingo launched a massive information and education campaign and engaged the local government unit in a series of dialogues to protest the impending transfer to the locality of Elegant Chemical Alloy Corporation, a steel smelting plant. With the facilitation of the parish and its leaders, the 12 BEC communities that will be adversely affected by the transfer formed the Anti-Steel Plant Movement lobbied government agencies, organized community watch and awareness Fthe transfer. The local government unit then issued a resolution banning the transfer of the smelting plant.

The same concerted efforts by dedicated BEC communities in different parishes made a mark on solid waste management. Training, specifically on Ways of Disposing Waste, Ecological Solid Waste Management, Waste Segregation: Biodegradable wastes, Composting and Recycling, and establishment of Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF) were conducted to support the BECs. As a result, 34 BEC members and eight non-BEC members were given general orientation on waste management, 55 BEC members and five-non BEC members were oriented on composting, and 40 BEC members were oriented on proper waste segregation.

The vigorous campaign encouraged 372 BEC members and 265 non-BEC members to practice waste segregation. In addition, approximately 50 percent of the residents of Barangay Bundagul now do the same. An ecological waste management program is also being implemented in the parishes of Immaculate Concepcion and St. James the Apostles in coordination with local government units and sociocivic organizations for the maintenance of cleanliness in the town’s central square and marketplace. Apart from educating BEC members in waste segregation and proper waste disposal, efforts have also been exerted on clean and green projects as piloted in St. Filomena.

The parish of St. James on the other hand, implements an ecowaste program at the parish level. The program advocates segregation at source, reuse and recycling of waste materials. An MRF in the parish complements the project. Tie-ups forged with junk dealers and recycling shops become additional sources of income for the BECs.

 

THE RESILIENT SPIRIT OF A UNIFIED BEC

As part of government’s thrust to provide livelihood and uplift the economic condition of the locality, the government of Pampanga , with the approval of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through its Environment Management Bureau (EMB), allowed the Establishment of Trust Industrial and Paper Corporation (TIPCO) in Mabalacat Town. TIPCO is a paper miling company catering to the domestic market. It has been said that the company operates on a coal plant within its premises and creates dust and smoke causing air pollution in the vicinity.

Located within three-kilometer radius from the plant is The Lord’s Resurrection Parish whose residents, severely affected by the air pollution, suffer from pulmonary and upper tract infections.

In order to stop the company’s operation, a cluster of 14 BECs through the leadership of the parish priest started the campaign for the cancellation of TIPCO’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC). Massive information and education drives, community resolutions, public hearings, consultations and dialogues resulted from the active participation and collective efforts of BEC clusters. Giving in to the mounting pressure, TIPCO ceased its operations. These activities raised level of awareness about the environment.

Reference: National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace Annual Report 2007, p44-46