On total log ban-A A +A
Monday, January 17, 2011
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III is planning to impose a total log ban in the country. It would take a lot of political will to do so.
The imposition of a total log ban is His Excellency's apt measure to combat the ill-effects of forest denudation that is often blamed on flooding in many places.
For almost a month, the Bicol region and some parts of the Visayas were inundated in floodwaters recently due to continuous heavy rains. For a country located in the west of the Pacific, the typhoon season should be experienced by mid-year.
Until lately, a number of towns and provinces are still submerged under floodwaters, with casualties and damages to properties and crops. Landslides in mountainous areas were reported with the death toll at 42, while six are still missing. Infrastructure and agriculture damages are pegged at an estimated P1.2 billion.
Experts believe that the unnatural amount of rainfall is caused by climate change with rains setting in early in the year, changing the pattern of the rainy season in the tropical-climate Philippines.
Non-stop rains have been recorded for 22 days in Bicol, with Albay province heavily bombarded by rains.
The Guinsaugon landslide incident, which claimed thousands of lives in 2006, is still fresh in the minds of the Filipinos. It was the first major landslide that took away lives and properties, washing away a couple of barangays in a matter of minutes. The sight of people wrapped in mud and some pinned by logs ignited the ire of many against forest loggers. St. Bernard was a ghost town. The supposed rescuers were transformed into merely extractors of lifeless bodies.
Trees are natural reservoirs that act as sponges during the onset of rains. During the wet season, they sip water and release it during dry spells. When there are not enough trees in the mountains, rainwater cannot be easily contained, thus resulting to flooding in flatlands and low-lying areas.
During summer, we experience droughts because of the same reason -- that we have not much trees.
Environmentalist, Mabalacat SB member and fellow columnist Rox Peña, knows all of these and perhaps would agree with me.
While we are experiencing fair weather in Pampanga, Albay and its neighboring provinces suffer from the heavy pounding of rain. Despite the province's mountainous terrain, there are no more natural rain catchers and flood sippers.
Flooding is not new to Kapampangans. Since I was a kid, I had been experiencing flashfloods. We even experienced and survived a major volcanic eruption in Mt. Pinatubo. Since then, flooding became worse and had been a yearly occurrence.
An incident more tragic happened in the town of Arayat, when lives and residences were swept away by mud and tree trunks during the first-ever landslide incident in the province. It is an indication that even Mt. Arayat was not spared from denudation.
I can still see a picture of Mt. Arayat in my mind, when its forest was so thick that sunlight cannot pass through and reach the ground. Various trees serve as a natural canopy for plants and animals that were once peacefully thriving there.
I go for the planned total log ban. People always blame illegal loggers as culprits behind forest denudations. It's not them actually but the "legal" loggers who are munching much of our forests. Logging either permitted or otherwise, should be put to a halt. We cannot afford to have another disaster brought about by the indiscriminate cutting of trees.
I surmise that the President perhaps appreciates the fact that we are losing our forests rapidly like his thinning hair, when he visited different provinces affected by heavy continuous rains, flooding and landslides. Law enforcers need not only apprehend loggers that are branded as "illegal" but loggers of all kinds.
Aside from the total log ban, he might as well order for massive reforestation activities all throughout the country.
It looks like we are heading for hard times when prices of almost everything are skyrocketing. Prices of petroleum products continuously rise. Any increase creates a domino effect, especially when it comes to prices of commodities.
Toll rates in our premier expressways increase too, thus increasing the expense of a viajero of goods. This viajero will add to his mark-up the increase in his expenses on gas and toll fees.
The price of the lowly pandesal has remained the same -- except its size. Its minute size was further reduced into a single-bite size.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 18, 2011.