The recent calamities that hit the provinces of Davao de Oro and Davao Oriental and the neighboring provinces due to the continuous rain that caused landslides and flooding in low-lying areas are so tragic.
According to the provincial disaster risk reduction and management offices (PDRRMOs) in affected areas in the Davao region, the number of fatalities has increased to 21, as of Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.
Davao de Oro PDRRMO, in a press conference, said 13 people died, while nine people were injured in the province.
Of the 13 fatalities, four each were reported in New Bataan and Marasugan, two each in Pantukan and Monkayo, and one in Maco.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its latest report that the number of individuals affected by the northeast monsoon, or amihan, and the trough of a low-pressure area has breached over one million.
The situation in the Davao region is also true even in developed countries like the United States and China where flooding has also affected vast areas.
I could only sigh in disbelief since calamities like landslides and flooding are now happening too often. People in the field of science point to climate change as the cause of these tragic events.
In 1982, the discovery of gold in the mountain of Diwalwal triggered a gold rush.
An estimated $1.8 billion worth of gold reserves remain untapped in the 5,000-hectare mountain where some 30,000 small-scale miners operate, many illegally.
The Naboc and Agusan Rivers are grossly contaminated with mercury and cyanide from mining operations.
Blacksmith is working with local nongovernment organizations and government officials to prepare a program to address some of the worst problems. (Pure Earth)
The illegal mining was rampant in the mountain of Diwalwal and chemicals were used in processing gold, causing chemical wastes to leak into creeks and rivers, causing these waterways to die.
During the gold rush in this mountain, there were reports of many people getting killed or going missing, and these were attributed to the stiff competition in the search for gold.
Those who have the guns and goons allegedly control the areas of camote (small-scale) miners.
In 2001, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization found above-normal blood mercury levels in almost everyone tested in the area. No significant mercury testing has been done since.
Sarah Tanghian, the town administrator of Monkayo, the provincial capital of Davao de Oro, said the Philippine government will not pay for the testing and the local government cannot afford the $550 per person cost — even though many residents now show symptoms of mercury poisoning. (Pulitzer Center)
Sometime in March 1, 2021, a landslide hit a portion of Mt. Diwata, also in Monkayo, prompting the government to order the closure of mining operations in the area.
In March 2019, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also closed the gold processors and ordered their transfer to the Mine Processing Zone in Mabatas.
The DENR also discovered that small-scale miners were operating without a permit and were not paying taxes to the government for the past 33 years.
All told, the abuse and misuse of our only treasure, the environment, and its natural resources by those whose main purpose in life is to make a profit has now resulted in mind-blowing calamities that, every now and then, wreak havoc in our country. Simply said, Planet Earth must now be angry.
On Tuesday, Feb. 6, it was reported that an earthquake struck my hometown of Cagwait and the town of Hinatuan in the province of Surigao del Sur. While the tremor did not cause any damage because there are no tall buildings in our place, the situation was still alarming.
People should wake up now to the reality that climate change is not a myth or propaganda by environmentalists.