Village officials ‘behind’ illegal mining, logging

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Friday, July 18, 2014


A GOVERNMENT official and an environmental advocate alleged that some barangay officials are involved in the illegal mining and logging operations in the city’s upland villages.

“I am very sure the barangay captains are behind all of these widespread illegal mining and logging activities in the upper lands of the city,” Orlando Ravanera, regional director of Cooperative Development Authority said during the press conference at Cagayan de Oro Press Club’s “Media Konek” on July 17, 2014.

Ravanera chairs the local environmental group Sulog–One Sendong is Enough.

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Ravanera said during their operations coupled with intelligence reports, the village chiefs of the five barangays along the upstream area of the Iponan River are allegedly running the extensive mining and logging operations.

“Although I would not name them for confidentiality purposes, but yes, the barangay captains and kagawads are the ones who spearhead the mining and logging businesses in the mountains,” Ravanera added.

He questioned the Environment Protection Order (EPOs) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to participating government agencies, which failed to act on the environmental problems in the upper area of the Iponan river.

Sulog is currently fast-tracking its request for a dialogue with other agencies like the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Environment Management Bureau (EMB) and DENR, to be included in its letter to the Court of Appeals.

“Sulog is seeking for a dialogue from the government agencies after we submit further reports on the order of the protection of the watershed in Iponan,” he said.

Edwin Dael, head of City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) also said that one of the bases that barangay officials are indirectly or directly involved is the sudden change of their lifestyle which is irreconcilable with their monthly salaries.

“There are many barangay captains and kagawads I know personally who do not have the kind of opulent lifestyle before. They can barely eat but now they have numerous cars and huge mansions. How could you explain that?” Dael said.

In their operations, Dael said they have been receiving reports that some of them (village officials) are really financing while others are merely protecting and operating the mining and logging activities.

“The bottom line here is that whatever their participation in the illegal activities, they are definitely receiving money from it,” he added.

Military participation

Ravanera also recalled his experience in 1991 when a grenade was lobbed at a group of people protesting which included him.

“We exactly remember everything they did to us. We figured out already that it was from the military because the grenade used can only be purchased and found in the military,” he said.

In the last anti-mining operations the group conducted, a backhoe was found which has long been missing and allegedly owned by a high-ranking military official.

Dael added the army official denied the allegations and claimed he rented the backhoe from a barangay captain in another village.

Dael admitted that there are still widespread illegal activities in the upper areas of the city until now.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 18, 2014.

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