Homonhon parishioners worried over entry of Chinese-manned vessel

Homonhon parishioners worried over entry of Chinese-manned vessel

Homonhon Island in Guiuan town, Eastern Samar. COURTESY OF FR. CHRISTIAN OFILAN

By CBCP News

April 3, 2020

Borongan City, Eastern Samar

A Catholic priest has raised concern over the scheduled entry of a Chinese-manned vessel on Homonhon Island in Eastern Samar, which has been under lockdown since last week.

The cargo vessel is expected to arrive in Homonhon over the weekend to load an estimated 7,000 metric tons of chromite ores from the mining operations of Techiron Resources Inc.

Fr. Christian Ofilan of the island’s St. John Baptist Parish said that the people are “anxious and concerned” about the entry of the vessel amid the threat of coronavirus spread.

“We have to protect the common good, our health,” Fr. Ofilan said.

“We are appealing to all relevant authorities to temporarily postpone the scheduled loading of minerals here in Homonhon until after this health crisis,” he said.

Once the loading is completed, the foreign vessel will reportedly leave the island in Guiuan town and directly sail to China.

Homonhon is home to around 4,800 people from eight barangays across the island.

Mining operations have been ongoing since the early 1990s on the historic island, where Christian faith first arrived in the Philippines 499 years ago.

The Borongan diocese has also been at the forefront in raising environmental awareness to save the island.

Homonhon is the spot where Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men first landed in the archipelago and took a weeklong respite in 1521.

Some theorists even claim that the first Mass may have been celebrated in the island.

Since March 22, the province has been under at least a month-long “general community quarantine” to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

In a resolution, Gov. Ben Evardone said that “all entries of non-residents to the provincial coastlines, regardless of origins, are hereby prohibited”.

He also tasked concerned agencies to “refuse the entry of any vessel attempting to dock and enter the province through the coastlines”.