City environment team threatened

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014


AS THE City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) and other civil society groups continue their operations against illegal logging and mining in Cagayan de Oro City, threats are starting to hound them.

Edwin Dael, chief of Clenro, said three months after he became the head of the office, he began receiving threats and noticed that men on motorcycles are lurking near his house.

He said some suspicious-looking men have been loitering outside his residence, adding that sometimes, the men would speed up their motorcycle and immediately would stop outside his house, then sped away.

Dael stopped using his motorcycle because it would make him an easy target. Sometimes, Dael said he would get calls at dawn from unidentified callers who threaten him.

“Abi nimo dili ka madutlan og dili ka matumba?” a caller told him one time.

“I can’t go back. Daghan nako nabangga ani. Mas maayo pa mamatay nga nagbantay sa kinaiyahan kaysa nikanta og ‘My way,’” Dael said.

Aside from the apparent threats on his life, Dael said there is also a petition demanding for his removal from his post in Clenro.

He said the people behind the petition could be part of the illegal mining operators.

He disclosed the pattern of threats he received was the same with Ralph Abragan of Save CDO Movement, also an environmentalist.

Abragan said he is being targeted by gun-for-hires who ride motorcycles.

Abragan said the motorcycle-riding gang undoubtedly could have been hired to assassinate him by operators of these illegal mining and logging.

“Yesterday, I left early for this raid and my neighbor overheard people, who were talking about me, from a convoy of two motorcycles that stopped by at our house,” Abragan said.

Abragan’s neighbors told him that the riders said “wala naman diri” and they left.

The next morning, Abragan said the same men came, stopped and stayed from a distance.

“While I was talking to my neighbor outside our house, the same men came and stopped from a distance, knowing that we were alerted by their presence they turned around and left,” Abragan said.

Seized

Abragan and Dael are both environmental advocates who are doing their duty as environmental caretakers.

Dael said Monday that they seized water pumps and 200-300 meters hoses in Barangay Taglimao. He said the hoses that were buried under a farm lot are owned by illegal miners.

“Ga-evolve sila but still we were able to seize their hidden mining materials,” Dael said.

He said they arrested nine persons for alleged illegal gold mining in Opol town on March 3, 2014.

Dael said he is pained to file charges against the suspects considering they are just workers, “but that is the only way we will know who financed them in their illegal mining activities.”

Those arrested could become state witness against the financiers of the illegal mining activities here.

The alleged illegal miners were not detained for humanitarian reasons as they have families to feed.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 05, 2014.

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