Late Marbel bishop stood firm vs open-pit mining in South Cotabato
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Bishop Emeritus Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel, who died on Sunday morning at 79, was an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration’s drug war and an outspoken critic of open-pit mining in South Cotabato province.
Gutierrez led the opposition against the Tampakan project, the largest known undeveloped copper-gold project in Southeast Asia being funded by Sagittarius Mines, Inc.
Sagittarius Mines’ bid to excavate the deposits was hobbled by the open-pit mining ban of South Cotabato province, which Gutierrez had strongly backed on concerns over the environment and food security.
The Rev. Ariel Destora, director of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, said the diocese lost a great religious leader and environmental defender.
“He is a strong advocate against open-pit mining as well as the rights of children in conflict with the law,” Destora said.
Destora said the wake for the prelate would be held at the Christ the King Cathedral in Koronadal City.
According to the priest, Guiterrez indicated in his last will that he would like to be buried inside the cathedral compound, the priest said.
Ailing for years
Gutierrez — born Feb. 20, 1939 — had been suffering from prostate cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for years, during which he went around with a small oxygen tank.
He died at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday at the General Santos Doctors’ Hospital here.
Gutierrez was appointed Marbel bishop on Nov. 15, 1982, and stayed on as bishop even after retiring at 75.
The two other bishops of the diocese were Passionist missionaries Quentin Olwell (1961-1969) and Reginald Arliss (1970-1981).
Marbel Bishop Cerilo “Allan” Casicas confirmed the passing his of immediate predecessor.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Most Rev. Dinualdo Gutierrez, Bishop-Emeritus of Marbel,” Casicas said. “Please pray for the repose of his soul.”
Gutierrez served as chairperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ National Secretariat for Social Action.
Casicas formally replaced him in July last year.
The Marbel diocese has pastoral jurisdiction over the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani and parts of Sultan Kudarat. /atm
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