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Cagayan de Oro
Monday, May 27, 2024

Stop Sacrificing Nature for Greed & Profit

Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera

Let’ Us Firmly Stand Against Illegal Mining

As stated by no less than its national president, Mr. Roy Cabonegro, “the Makakalikasan Party is calling on the government to take immediate action to ensure that all illegal mining activities in Iponan River are permanently stopped. The government must also investigate and prosecute the individuals and groups responsible for the destruction of the river delta”

President Roy added that” The Makakalikasan Party also reiterates its position on its Reclaiming Natural Patrimony Agenda, which calls for a moratorium on all mining operations in the country for 1-2 decades. This extreme position reflects the extent of the destruction of our critical ecosystems due to even legal mining operations. If legal mining operations are already seen as critically problematic, much more on illegal mining operations in an area already covered by judicial remedy, through the writ of Kalikasan”

The late DENR Secretary Gina Lopez was correct when during her stint as Secretary, she courageously stopped without fear or favor the digging or drilling and blasting to remove resource or ore/minerals aptly called open-pit mining.  As a passionate environmentalist sui generis, illegal mining and open pit mining operations must be stopped with sense of urgency. Then Sec. Lopez understood very well that the illegal mining and open-pit mining was the number one culprit on why our fishery and marine resources were rapidly vanishing. 

The massive digging or drilling and blasting in the uplands through open pit mining had caused thousands if not billions of tons of soil to be carried by the rivers to the sea which had destroyed sea life.  Of the 13 major bays in the country, 10 are already biologically dead; of the 25 major rivers, 15 are already dried-up or silted. Seventy-five per cent of our mangroves, the spawning ground of fish, are already destroyed and only 5% is in excellent condition. Gone are our coral reefs, the finest on earth.

It is quite a pity that while the Philippine Archipelago has been described before by the President of the UN-FAO, Dr. Kent Carpenter, as “the Center of the center of marine life on earth,” but such wealth had vanished in a “wink of an eye.” Let us reflect for a while what happened. It was then the period of Martial Law when Japanese trawlers were massively raking our seas called “Muro-Ami,” then processed and canned the fishes caught and sold to us. After Martial Law period, our archipelago, too vast to guard by our Naval Force, became a “dumping ground” of toxic wastes by advanced countries like Canada, Australia, and South Korea. Despite these horrendous death blows to our archipelago, what remains of our marine life is being taken advantaged by China as the West Philippine Sea is now the subject of massive raking by well-guarded Chinese vessels, in gross violation of our sovereignty, as stated in the United Nations’ Arbitral Ruling. 

The Philippines is an archipelago of some 7,100 islands, oozing before with fishery and marine resources that were only found in our country. Our land resources are even richer with billions of megadiversity living in the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest. Don’t you know that in one ecosystem alone, i.e., 5,000-ha. Mt. Kitanglad, the number of flora and fauna is far greater in number compared to those found in one-billion ha. in North America? But that was before we have lost our forest ecosystem to the unscrupulous powerful loggers who have massively and illegally logged the finest of trees in the world by forming a strong cabal of vested interest. Indeed, we have lost our marine life, our megadiversity and our minerals through open-pit mining to the detriment of our ecological people, i.e., the fishing communities, the peasantry, the Indigenous Peoples, as our country has supplied the timber-needs, the mineral-needs, the consumerist needs of the people in advanced countries following an extractive economy. Are you still wondering why there is so much poverty in a blessed land oozing with ecological resources?

Well, the final death blow to our fishery and marine life will happen if we allow open-pit mining as already banned by then Sec. Gina Lopez during her term. As legally defined, open-pit mining is “an open-cast or open cut mining and in larger context mega-mining, a surface mining technique of extracting rock or minerals from the earth from an open air-pit known as borrow.” Knowing that alone will already give us a concrete picture on the massive destruction of our mountains which were once the forest ecosystem in an archipelago oozing with marine life.  Subjecting these denuded mountains to open-pit-mining means no way can we regain back our ecological integrity. Thus, after the massive devastation and exploitation of the wealth above the ground, i.e., dipterocarp forests, agricultural lands through conventional agriculture which massively is using toxic chemicals in the 200,000-ha. plantations in Mindanao that have already polluted the watersheds, the focus now is how to extract ecological wealth under the ground, i.e., gold, ores, minerals, etc. through open-pit mining. For what? To supply the mineral needs of the people in advanced and powerful countries? Well, I will not be surprised.

In 2015, as presiding officer of “Task Force Kinaiyahan” in pursuance of the “Writ of Kalikasan” issued by the Court of Appeals in 2013 to stop illegal logging and illegal mining operation in Northern Mindanao, we were so aghast during our operation against illegal mining in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro to see in the campsite of illegal miners, AK-47, Armalites and grenades. The law enforcers, the core group of Task Force Kinaiyahan, who were with us, arrested three Chinese citizens who were only tourist-visa holders, doing open-pit mining operations in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro. 

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In the Year 2013

Photos taken during the conduct of raid that leads to the Apprehensions of Chinese Nationals engaged in illegal mining operation at Brgy. Tumpagon, Cagayan de Oro City.

It was a shock to us to know that those benefitting from our minerals through open-pit mining are not the Filipinos but Chinese. Where are these captured Chinese now? Well, we were told that they were just detained for a week. They were released a week after, allowed to go back to China and escorted by an elected official! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH OF OPEN-PIT MINING! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH OF OUR SUBSERIVIENT TO FOREIGN INTEREST! 
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Photo showing laboratory apparatus and blasting materials confiscated by Task Force Kinaiyahan at the mine site during the conduct of operation on July 23, 2015.
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Photos showing of the Task Force Kinaiyahan conducting operation on alleged Illegal Mining activities at Sitio Pasaw, Brgy. Dansolihon, Cagayan de Oro City on September 8, 2015.

If we allow the continuing exploitation of our natural resources at a time when our country has already lost its ecological integrity and security, perhaps there is truth to the saying that the Philippines is indeed “a nation of coward people!” Let Typhoon Odette serve notice to one and all when some three hundred thousand families were rendered homeless and now hungry, let us now stop the pains of GAIA (Mother Earth) by stopping open-pit mining, the banning of which was lifted recently, much to the disappointment of our environmental hero who have already leaped to the Great Beyond who in her lifetime had exemplified oneness with all of God’s creation which is indeed true love. 

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Sendong Victims

It is in this context that we can described illegal mining activities as the height of criminal offense that is not only causing the death of the rivers and bays that has already impoverished the coastal communities. The massive destruction of the ecosystems in the uplands had not only rendered thousands of families homeless but thousands have been killed due to the onslaught of rampaging waters as what happened in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on Dec. 17, 2011 due to Typhoon Sendong. These illegal miners were among the culprits as they were responsible in destroying the country’s ecological security. Thus, the destruction of the ecosystems is not just violations of environmental laws but have become a heinous crime of indirect murder.  Let justice be done till heavens fall!

Let Us Heal the Wounds of Mother Earth

As Consciousness, Feel the Oneness & Sacredness of All Life

Liberating humanity from collective insanity is the urgent call of the times otherwise the earth’s 6th extinction will come of age after the 5th extinction which happened some 63 million years ago when asteroids hit the earth that had erased Dinosaurs from the face of the earth. The species known as the homo sapiens has been described as the most flawed of all of God’s creation, having killed not only fellow human beings at the tune of some 150 million in the 20th century alone out of two world wars but the homo sapiens has put to extinction billions of mega-diversities and now causing the extinction of the earth itself. The awakening time has come.  Let us now know who truly we are, not just form (body) but consciousness (spirit).

  Climate Change

As consciousness, we must pay homage to Gaia (Mother Earth) that sustains life yet, has been abused no end, its forests raped, its biodiversity massacred, its agricultural lands poisoned by toxic chemicals, its rivers drying-up, its sea polluted and its ozone layer depleted.  

We are now in the 23nd year of the 21st century but we are not so certain anymore if we can reach the 22nd as the earth warms, sea level rising and climate change has set the doomsday clock to just “one minute before midnight.” We must now contend with impending ecological disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis, super typhoons, drought, and floods – which are becoming horrible and fatal. Indeed, there is no free meal in nature. After sacrificing Mother Earth to the altar of greed and profit because of the development paradigm called Neo-Liberal Capitalism also known as Corporate Globalization which is anchored on the growth-at-all-cost development strategy, nature is now taking its vengeance. 

The Philippines, according to the United Nations’ Risk Disaster Index is the 4th country in the world worst hit by Climate Change. Our accelerating drive towards ecological disasters is further aggravated by the destruction of ecological base that must feed, clothe, and house the exponentially growing population. The 10,000 or so earth’s inhabitants had grown to 3.3 billion in 1900 after one hundred thousand years but that 3.3 billion has more than doubled to 7 billion today, after only 120 years.  By 2050, there will be some 9.3 billion people on earth, according to UN demographers, which is only 28 years from now.  

The tremendous increase in world’s population cannot be matched by food production. On the contrary, food production is decreasing because, according to well-known scientists, for every one-degree Celsius increase in the earth’s temperature, there will be a corresponding 10% decrease in yield of wheat, corn, and rice. 


Mitigation and Adaptation | Solutions – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the  Planet
What is the Relationship Between Deforestation And Climate Change? |  Rainforest Alliance
Pandemic causes an increase in the number of malnourished children – City  Government of Koronadal
Here's 11 ways humans impact the environment on Earth
Philippine Military Accused of Attacking Indigenous Tribes | Time
Pandemic Drove Global Hunger up by 112mn, 71% Indians Unable to Afford  Nutritious Food: FAO | NewsClick
Landlessness brings hunger, unrest to rural Philippines - UCA News
StopLumadKillings: What you need to know – TONYO CRUZ

One billion people on earth are hungry, mostly Asians. The impending occurrence of famine is now predicted as the Himalayan glaciers are melting in addition to the daily melting of one thousand hectares of the 386-meter-high glaciers in the Arctic and the Antarctic. As an adverse consequence, it is feared that the Mekong Delta that irrigates millions of hectares of rice lands in India, China, Vietnam, Lao, and Cambodia will dry-up and will instead be inundated by the rising salty water. 

When this happens, some 30 million Filipinos will go hungry as we are importing 2.5 million metric tons of rice annually from these countries. The 106 million Filipinos need some 15 million metric tons of rice every year. We can only provide some 10 million metric tons, the balance of which we import.  I believe it is time to make our country self-reliant on food.  It is paradoxical that while we are feeding the world with all kinds of fruits and cash crops, we must import basic staples for our hungry people such as rice and milk. This is because it is the giant agri-business corporations that own our agriculture, not the farming communities. 

While we must be conscious of the state of the environment globally, it is imperative for us to be aware, more so, locally. The Philippines has long lost its ecological integrity. In fact, we are now facing ecological crisis that unless soon averted will lead to societal collapse. 

After losing the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest in just a century, there is no way in stopping the rampaging water that wreaks havoc whatever it finds in its path, be life, limb, or properties. Even here in Cagayan de Oro, we have witnessed the destruction of our ecosystems with utter disregard for nature and the welfare of the future generations which has rendered the city very much vulnerable to ecological disasters. Remember what happened when Typhoon Sendong hit Cagayan de Oro on Dec 17, 2011. 

It was early dawn of December 17, 2011, when the devastating flood induced by Typhoon Sendong (Washi) extinguished more 3,000 lives and many more missing in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.

In just one night of flooding, some 3,000 died in cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and some 11,000 families were rendered homeless. Those who died were the poor families living in the vulnerable areas while the rich and powerful loggers who were the culprits were well ensconced in their mansions. Yes, pobre lang po sila pero mga anak din po sila ng Diyos! Many of the pitiful victims were children. 

Satellite map had shown that from 37,000 hectares of forest cover 50 years ago in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro, we barely have a thousand hectares of remaining forest. From the sixties to the nineties, logging has continued without let-up, perpetuated by those whose insatiable greed had created a strong cabal of vested interest with connivance from the very people who are tasked to protect the environment. Massive non-stop illegal logging operations had been done for more than four decades by powerful six logging companies namely, Vicmar, TIPI, Remedios Fortich & Sons, Roa & Sons, Dacudao, Valderama & Sons which were supported by well-armed guards especially by another illegal logger named the late 2nd Lt. Modesto Eleazar. The DENR should be asked why these logging companies did not comply with the provision as stated in the Timber License Agreements (TLAs) on the imperative responsibility of massive replanting to replace tree in the logged areas? Furthermore, the DENR should explain why logging operations took place in the prohibited zones, i.e., no logging in forestall areas with an altitude of more than 1,000 meters above sea level. The Mt. Kalatungan & Mt. Kitanglad Ranges have an altitude of more than 2,600 meters above sea level, BAKIT NAUBOS ANG KAKAHUYAN DOON? Also, no logging in sloppy areas with more 50% gradient and the finest of trees are well protected, i.e., Red Lauan, Narra, Mahogany, & Almaciga. Ubos na rin lahat because these finest of trees command higher price in the world market. In fact, in the hinterlands of Bukidnon, these loggers have put-up saw-mills amidst the oozing forest areas and no one can enter as these were well-guarded by the loggers with high powered guns. DENR PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT DID YOU DO TO IMPLEMENT THE RULE OF LAW.  Don’t you know that these loggers did not just violate environmental laws but they have caused the death of thousands as what happened when rampaging waters hit the cities of Cagayan de Oro & Iligan due to Typhoon Sendong. These loggers are therefore guilty of indirect murder of thousands of people!! His Excellency, PRESBBM, we hope that due investigation be done on why the rule of law was blatantly violated which was replaced by the rule of the guns, money, and power!

Illegal Logging – 

Such is the razon d’etre, why we in Task Force Macajalar had to wage the people’s direct actions, staging human barricades to stop the 50 ten-wheeler logging trucks with armed escorts, passing the thorough fares of Cagayan de Oro from midnight till dawn. Each truck, according to reports, was paying checkpoint five thousand pesos and telling us then that we cannot stop them because 90% of the people in the office mandated to enforce environmental laws were under their payroll.  

The 17 million hectares, only less than 500,000 hectares remain as the loggers would earn 360,000 million pesos just in one shipment alone.

These logging activities happened in the last 100 years as the Philippines supply the timber needs of the world for the last century.

Don’t you know that in one shipment of logs alone, a logger would earn some 360 million pesos, money that they also share to law enforcers? All logging activities were illegal then as these choicest of trees were cut in the prohibited zones being critical areas in terms of topography and slope.

Cagayan de Oro River is fed by about a dozen tributaries coming from Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan in Bukidnon.  There is a high possibility that the floods on Dec. 17, 2011 that hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Cities may have come from Mt. Kalatungan as it serves as watershed of both cities, draining to the Cagayan de Oro River through its tributaries like the Boluag River, and to Iligan through the Mandulog River Among the operators is the IFMA no. 1 issued in 1997 to Vicmar Development Corporation. Several CBFMA issued huge cutting permits called Resource Use Permits. Logging in these areas was so rampant, rending some 200,000 hectares denuded. As predicted by well-known environmentalist, one-inch rainfall in 200,000 denuded areas is equivalent to one-meter-high flood upon reaching the 200 hectares urban center of Cagayan de Oro. Ten-inch rainfall means ten-meter flood water. PATI ANG GAISANO, DI NA IYAN MAKITA DURING THE NEXT SENDONG. 

Indeed, we have lost Eden as the Philippines was so rich before in biodiversity. In one forest ecosystem alone such as Mt. Kitanglad, the number of flora and fauna found in that 5,000-hectare ecosystem is far greater compared to those found in one billion hectare- continent of North America. Our archipelago had been described before by the President of the UN-FAO, Dr. Kent Carpenter, as the center of the center of marine and fishery life on earth. Not anymore.  Our vast seas became a dumping ground of toxic garbage from Korea, Australia, and Canada.  Of the 13 major bays in the country, 10 are already biologically dead.  Of the 25 major rivers, 15 are already dried up. Our forests, our” invisible “water dam,” are now gone because our country has supplied the timber needs of the world in the last century because of the elitist and oligarchical control by the new breed of colonizers.  Be that as it may, let us express our love to GAIA and in one voice we shout, WE LOVE YOU GAIA!

Preserve the mini-forest of ManresaManresa Farm Xavier University | Education | Cagayan De Oro

No to commercializing Xavier University that sacrifices its cultural heritage. The Mini-forest of Manresa is home to some 40 species of birds. Preserve Manresa and should not be sacrifice to the altar of greed and profit. Based on this painful ecological truth, never should cutting of the trees be done in the mini-forest of Manresa which somehow serves as the “shield” against another “Sendong.” Glaringly thousands will die in Balulang if that happens.


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