The Chico River comes back to life like a shadow fiend?-A A +A
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
THE province of Kalinga is contemplating to file a Writ of Kalikasan case against its neighboring province - Mountain Province.
The contemplated case has been in the news these past months. It remains today as a contemplated threat that in my mind can make the Chico River rise back to life as a shadow fiend. Whether that is good or bad depends on how the Writ case will be filed and ultimately resolved. I ask, can the situation be helped this early?
It seems passé to highlight the importance of the Chico River to our local and national life. The truth, if we admit it, is as passé as our inaction or neglect of this river over the years.
The Chico River is practically dead. Most of its fisheries and wild life are no longer there. It hardly moves downstream during the past El Nino seasons. During the rainy months the river carries all kinds of community wastes and silt from the highlands to the Upper Chico River System (Ucris) in the City of Tabuk and to the sea.
If it is the sea that files the Writ, all people from the sea coast to the highlands should be made answerable to their irresponsible actions. The sea silently bears with our indiscretions and offenses. But the sea’s silence is in itself a judgment that ultimately makes inland dwellers suffer. It is scientifically proven and observable fact – what we throw and carried by our river systems to the sea has diminished and continuously destroys our sea foods. There is more to that reality still.
The wastes engorged by our sea foods also returns back to make us sick. If you doubt that, try eating irradiated sea food from the Fukushima disaster.
From the sea coast to the highlands, people and communities complain and blame each other about the wastes that the river carries from upstream. They can probably settle that on their own. But today they can go to the Supreme Court with a Writ case. That is what the Province of Kalinga contemplates to do. The Writ, I hope, has something to do with saving and enhancing the life of the Chico River for the present and current generation. I cheer the right of the Province of Kalinga, to file the Writ in this direction. In the end, it must compel all parties in both provinces, to find the problems and solutions in their own backyards first.
The life of the Chico River does not rely on Mountain Province alone. It depends on how the communities along the river’s path manage their waste; and protect, conserve and plant trees. In the case of siltation most road networks in their current state and new settlements along the Chico River and its tributaries’ paths are culprits too.
From Tuao, Cagayan to the Chico River’s headwaters in Pangao Watershed in Bauko, Mountain Province, I would propose a walkthrough the Chico River to prove my point. From Tuao where the Chico joins with the Cagayan River, the river passes through 8 municipalities in Kalinga and Mountain Province. There are several villages that are also found along the river’s banks. Add to that the hundreds of rivers and tributaries that connect to the Chico. These riverine systems pass through human settlements in other municipalities that also directly contribute waste and silt to the Chico River.
I dare say the state of the Chico River today reflects on how we as a nation and communities value quality human survival actually. In the case of the Chico River, the problems that relate to that thesis when fully established will show we are poorly informed, if not indifferent to its deterioration as a very important common resource to agricultural and fisheries industries, cultural and tourism enhancement, science and the arts, and all the other life forms that depend on the river’s state for their existence and health. Our indifference is killing them and us also --- quickly or slowly.
But can we really do something about the life of the Chico River before it is too late? The Writ of Kalikasan is here to stay and thanks to what it can do to compel leaders and communities to think and act wisely for the environment. In my view, the law should truly prove itself to be a shadow fiend to environmental malefactors and a blessing to nature lovers.
Meanwhile, our local government units in both provinces of Kalinga and Mountain Province, where the Chico River runs, must really step forward and lead the crusade to save or return the river to its pristine conditions.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 31, 2012.