Green groups celebrate Earth Day

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013


THOUSANDS of green activists, survivors of Tropical Storm Sendong, and indigenous people (IP) in Northern Mindanao joined the rest of the world in commemorating the 43rd Earth Day celebration.

The activity started with a lumad ritual performed by around 30 datus from Northern Mindanao who gathered around the freedom monument at De Lara Park to seek help from “Magbabaya” (God) to enlighten the present administration on the alleged “anti-lumad” and “anti-environment” policies.

The datus performed their rituals by offering chicken, coins, local wine, and ginger to appease their gods.

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From the Higaonon tribe, Alfredo Adlaw came all the way from his hometown in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, together with the rest of his group, who hoped that through the intervention of Magbabaya President Benigno Aquino III will lead them to the “matuwid na daan,” a call President Aquino always articulates in all his speeches.

Following the ritual, the lumad groups marched to the Magsaysay Park in Divisoria for a round of discussions.

Datu Helyo Planas, secretary general of Kalumbay, raised his group’s concerns on food security and rehabilitation and on large-scale mining and plantation expansion.

Planas gave Aquino a “zero grade” in his three years as President for allowing the illegal miners in the country particularly in Northern Mindanao that has been causing floods and calamities like the Typhoon Sendong tragedy in 2011 that left hundreds of people dead and missing.

Planas said, “the small scale miners like us who are only using manual equipment were left to blame for the calamities instead of the big scale miners who use hydraulic machines which evidently destroys the environment.”

Gregoria Hupayan, a member of the Kalumbay tribe from Talakag, Bukidnon, also raised the concern on land dispute between her tribe and Ambassador Alonto from Marawi who allegedly grabbed their 3,700-hectare tilled land and transformed it into a palm oil plantation.

Hupayan said her tribe has been living and tilling the land for many years, and suddenly they were asked to vacate it to pave way for a palm oil plantation.

She said food security is at stake, Hupayan hoped that Aquino will look into these issues and favor them and not the land grabber.

To seal the Earth Day activities, there were musical performances by local artists held in different venues from 6 to 9 in the evening on Monday.

Meanwhile, local environmentalist group Sulog, which aimed at inspiring awareness and appreciation for the earth’s environment, also celebrated the Earth Day with a conference Monday.

Sulog chairman Orlando Ravanera hoped that his group’s advocacy for ecological protection may finally be realized as an agreement on the environment will be soon be signed.

Mayor Vicente Emano agreed to sign the Memorandum of Agreement that Sulog and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources inked to complete the mission on clearing the Iponan River.

Ravanera said the signatures from the different groups would also mean more will be advocating for the environment.

Ravanera disclosed that Sulog will sponsor a candidate forum and invite political bets who have environment-friendly platforms.

He said candidates who operate mining, illegal logging and other activities that would harm nature will also be invited in the forum.

Various cooperatives will help advocate for the environment and pledged to give their three percent gross income as their corporate social responsibility (CSR) geared to fund environment projects.

Noel Butad, an environmentalist and Sulog member, said Sulog handles big responsibilities concerning the environment that needs the support of many sectors to make the advocacy into a reality.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 23, 2013.

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