LAST week the national papers bannered several stories about how the devastation of the watersheds in Mindanao either resulted to the flooding of the communities around them, the lack of later, loss of biodiversity, loss of soil – and a host of calamitous consequences the people in that island suffer from now.
Last Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol blamed the continued tree-cutting in the hinterlands of Northern Mindanao region for the massive flooding that submerged Cagayan de Oro City and nearby areas on Monday.
Media quoted the good Secretary expressing alarm about the recent flooding in the area and putting the blame in a way that it should also be addressed. “When flash floods hit a certain area, there’s only one reason for that. It means there are no trees in the mountains to hold the rainwater,” Piñol said in a news conference in Malacañang.
The deforestation in Mindanao has actually gone on for decades. Several studies were conducted about soil erosion and deforestation in Mindanao that started way back during the American colonial times and continues today.
Communities built on land grabs may lack a culture of land care. Amassing large tracts of land through bulldozers and guns, landlords are impatient in drawing the most profit from the land and its laborers. The greedy rush to instant profits does not leave a legacy of land resource stewardship and sustainability.
Landlordism is intertwined with Regalian Law that has been used to grab and rape the land. How could large scale grabbing of IP lands, the rape of forests and destruction of inland soil, water, and marine resources go on too long if the law, its forces, its institutions, and its structures of governance are not behind their favorable disposal?
There are efforts to make the IPs return to their ways and fight back – to preserve the forest and natural resources for the future of the nation. It is too late. Does it make sense? We are all infected with that Republican disease now. We are divided into factions with our own passions and self-interests, our numbers constantly fighting for control and power, for perks and living it up like royalty while the masses suffer. Why preserve common legacies and resources when anybody can have it all now by cunning.
The presence of gold in our hills and mountains brought the white man in our communities. At least in their time we dug deep tunnels to get to the gold and planted trees in our communities. When the Americans left, clear-cut logging and strip mining in mine concessions were implemented. The new bosses were impatient. A tender lady seeing her stomping grounds so violated can scratch, and fight back. I have seen those television clips of strip lands and I understand why the nation would not benefit from mining’s current attitude now and forever more.
I grew up from the mines. I knew responsible mining, not the impatient kind from my dad. Its future is bright if, throughout the years, mining profits would have been reinvested in technologies that would make mine wastes and tailings safe. In Australia and Africa, great mining giants have developed ways to convert mine wastes and water safe to living creatures as soon as these get out of the premises. The world has gone far into the future of mining. Our current mining strategies have gone way behind crude just to get and have the gold and profits, what matters to the bosses.
Who land grabs and rapes the land? Who is looting the nation's natural resources? What a fine expertise that has evolved among those of us in high places. What is next for the Philippines? I wish Secretary Gina Lopez, all the success in her crusade to protect and safeguard what remains of our watersheds.