Heal the blighted land back to life or perish-A A +A
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
THE satellite map shows it all: 150,000 hectares of denuded areas, logged by those who could not moderate their greed in the 60’s up to the 90’s -- four decades of massive plunder of the forest ecosystem in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and Lanao. Such unbridled exploitation of our dipterocarp forest had made gargantuan rakings that would earn a logger P360 million from every shipment of logs. Did the rakings go to the pockets of the loggers alone? No. These loggers have formed a strong cabal of vested interest, i.e., politicians, that is, if they were not themselves politicians, law enforcers, businessmen, government officials.
The loggers had cut trees in areas where logging was prohibited, i.e. heights of more than 1,000 meters and hills that have 50 percent gradient. How come these loggers were allowed to violate these laws?
A known logger, the late 2nd Lieutenant Desty Eleazar, had told me when we, of the Task Force Macajalar, barricaded five of his logging trucks for transporting illegally cut logs during our people’s direct actions against logging in the 90s: “You cannot stop me because 90 percent of the employees in that office are under my payroll.”
Today, hundreds of thousands of denuded lands which we have seen when we flew over these areas recently (courtesy of the Choppers of the Air Force) in the Kalatungan Range now stand as monument of shame and neglect of those who are mandated to protect our forest yet are only successful in conniving with the loggers to abuse nature. These rolling hills without vegetation are concrete proof of the people’s apathetic attitude to the cause of Mother Earth. Indeed, why did we allow Vicmar, Dacudao, Roa, TIPI to devastate our forests?
We did not just allow our forest to be exploited to the utmost; we also allow Koreans to utterly exploit our mountains and rivers though mining, whose barges are horribly dredging tons and tons of sediments and alluvial deposits in the Iponan River just to extract six grams of gold from one ton of sediments. What mindless exploitation!
On top of these, mountains are being destroyed through hydraulic flush mining operations, seriously silting the river that is now known as the “chocolate river.”
If Bohol is known for its “chocolate hills,” Cagayan de Oro is now known for its “chocolate river.”
Just like in logging that had oozed with illegalities, mining operations in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro are very much illegal as declared by the DENR itself.
Question? How can we allow all these environmental laws to be violated with imprimatur from powers-that-be? Are we not governed by rule of law? In those areas, only rule of greed that the perpetuators cannot moderate.
With our forest gone, mountains wreck and rivers clogged up, Cagayan de Oro is now very much vulnerable to massive flooding, as evidenced by Tropical Storm “Sendong.”
This time, we call on all Kagay-anons to stand for nature. We must now heal the blighted land back to life, otherwise, we will all perish!
Today, we must declare to one and all that we have awakened. We should not allow anymore a few loggers and a few miners (especially if these miners are from Korea) to exploit our resources this time, with so much impunity and with utter disregard to the lives of Kagay-anons.
One Sendong is enough!
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 25, 2012.