Silsilah’s Friends of the Watersheds
Dialogue with creation is one of the four crucial program pillars of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, along with dialogue with God, with the self and with others. When dialogue with creation is set aside or impaired then we lose touch with our sense of responsibility to maintain our planet earth as a suitable home for all mankind. Thus Silsilah has been diligently promoting dialogue with creation over the past years and one particular concern is treating the environment in ways so that it can continue to provide for the need for water of people.
Water has become a crucial issue in the world – either there is not enough of it or there is too much, depending on the particular area being thought of. We know of places which are in extreme drought conditions and places which have been inundated by serious flooding. In either case people’s lives are seriously affected.
Silsilah has a group called Friends of the Watersheds whose mission is to ensure the continued health of the watersheds of Zamboanga City and keep the watersheds safe from threats to their capacity to be the source of safe and ample water for household, agricultural and industrial uses and also prevent denudation of the forests.
Zamboanga City has seven watersheds: Ayala, Bolong, Curuan, Manicahan, Pasonanca, Culianan and Vitali. The Pasonanca watershed is already protected by virtue of Proclamation No. 132 “declaring the Pasonanca Watershed Forest Reserve…as a natural park.” The other watersheds fall under the “Co-Management Agreement” signed between the DENR Regional Office IX and the Government of the City of Zamboanga signed on November 23, 2006. However, these watersheds continue to be threatened – by the commercial interests of mining companies to undertake mining activities within the area of the watersheds and logging by private individuals or corporate groups.
The Friends of the Watersheds was formed in 2009 as an advocacy group to protest the grant of a permit to a mining company to carry out “exploration for ores” within the Ayala watershed area. It was the general feeling that exploration was just a cover for actual mining activities in the future. Since Ayala was still suffering from the effects of mining by a company granted a permit in the ‘70s, the reaction to the new threat elicited a strong reaction from the residents. Silsilah joined the advocacy and the voice of protest thus became stronger and louder.
The Friends of the Watersheds is no longer just an advocacy for the Ayala watershed but for all the watersheds of Zamboanga City. As in all advocacy work it requires commitment and resolve to go against the vested interests of some groups and the indifference of many. Silsilah needs your encouragement and support.