AFTER ten long years, the brutal massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao, 30 of whom were journalists, is now put to rest with the “reclusion perpetua” (life-time imprisonment) penalty handed down by the Court to the mastermind, the Ampatuans and those equal guilty cohorts.
Indeed, we were terribly shocked and aghast then by the Maguindanao Massacre that blatantly showed the lethal combination of impunity and madness by the perpetrators.
We vehemently condemned such dastardly and barbaric act that has no place in a civilized society. We should now be resolved more than ever to work for peace in Mindanao as negative peace scenario is still persisting. Greed-driven structures protected by private armies that spawned such heinous crime should now be made obsolete. This is the least that we can do in expressing our deepest sympathy, that after all the brutal death of the helpless victims and the fallen comrade in media, will not be for naught.
Unknown to many, there is an on-going massacre that is equally brutal, systematic and with utmost impunity but has merited just an iota of concern, which is the plunder of our dipterocarp forest and all the life forms that go with it.
Since the late 80s, the environmental coalition that I have the privilege of leading has struggled without let-up to save our remaining forest. We, together with the ecological people – the indigenous people, farmers and fisherfolk – had launched series of direct actions called human barricades to stop the wanton exploitation of our forest ecosystem by the loggers and all their cabal of vested interest.
Such was not an easy task as it was always life-threatening. All the 30 to 50 ten-wheeler logging trucks carrying illegally cut logs from the 200,000 hectares Kalatungan and Mt. Kitanglad Range and from the watersheds of Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and Lanao provinces were with armed escorts. Such shameless and illegal carriages of timber were passing the thorough fares of Cagayan de Oro at early dawn so as not be noticed.
The 10 long years of barricading logging trucks saw us slapped with court cases by logging companies including the hurling of m2k2 grenade that miraculously did not explode. These harassments did embolden us to intensify our advocacy that even led us ton confront personally no less than then our President Joseph Estrada in the barricade area.
Our battle cry then was, “Protecting God’s vanishing creation is the highest form of worship.” God is not seen inside the Church as the figures there are just the imagination of the known painter-artist Leonardo da Vinci. We were willing to die then for nature, the manifestation of the Unseen Being firmly believing that we are all one with God’s creation as we are all interconnected.
Although we were successful in stopping logging to save the remaining forest but such victory came only after a decade of direct actions because the structure of greed that got support from power-that-be together with the cabal of vested interest was very formidable. The loggers had so much rakings then as per shipment of logs would earn a logger some 360 million pesos, money that they used to buy votes or used to corrupt officials who were supposed to enforce the laws as all logging activities then were illegal as these were done in prohibited areas, for example, one thousand meters above sea level or in slopes with more than 50 percent gradient.
By then, the remaining forest in the watersheds of Cagayan de Oro had gone down to only 2,000 hectares from 37,000 hectares 50 years ago, based on the satellite map. Yes, the 48,000-hectare Cagayan de Oro is almost without forest cover. Are you wondering why are we suffering our ecological disasters? What is so painful is, when the water rises causing floods, it is the poor and the vulnerable who suffer the worse. The loggers and miners are well secured in their mansions and those who have connived with them.
Just like the Ampatuans, they must also be sentenced to “reclusion perpetua” for causing the death not only of 58 people but some 3,000 victims of Sendong. Indeed, the sins of a few loggers are now visited upon our people. Nationwide, from 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest a century ago, we barely have half a million hectares. The 7,100 islands need at least ten million hectares to have ecological security.
Indeed, even with a strong army a country that has no ecological security is not secured at all, the Philippines being the third hardest hit country in the world of climate change. We are now in our cataclysmic stage of our existence and Gaia (Mother Earth) is now in pain and shaking. Are you still wondering why there are earthquakes now and then?
Gaia is in severe pain having lost Her lungs (the forest), having lost Her veins (the rivers as 15 of the 25 major rivers in the country are either dried-up or polluted) having acidified stomach (of the 13 major bays, 10 are already biologically dead, having no more hair (as the ozone layer) has almost vanished.
Feel the pain of Gaia, your mother as we are sons and daughters of Mother Earth. It is sad to note that instead of feeling Her pains, the Filipinos are just now reduced to self-gratification machines, so enamored in self-promotion and externalities, so much buried in consumerism and materialism.
“Pasayawan mo lang ng isang guapong kandidato, panalo na. Palaruin mo lang ang Ginebra at San Miguel, nakalimutan na problema lalo na pag nakakita ng Probinsiyano.”
Even religions are used for self-gratification and in making money. Don’t you know that we are now Espiritus Luminus (Enlightened Spirits) and Satan is using our egoic mind to divert us from who we are, truly created in God’s image and likeness.
Indeed, we are all one with the Unseen Being and only by feeling the pain of Gaia, by being one with all of God’s creation – the forest, the birds, the rivers, the seas, the stars, sun and moon that we can debunk the diabolic conquest of Satan over our mind and the essence of who we truly are!
We must stop the greatest massacre of all times – that of God’s creation! Deep in our hearts we must now feel that love–WE LOVE YOU GAIA!