Green coalition blamed Caraga flooding, landslide to unabated illegal logging, deforestation

by Ben Serrano

January 5, 2011

            BUTUAN CITY (PNA) - Pro-environment citizen’s watch group Green Coalition today blamed unabated illegal logging and mining leading to wanton deforestation contributed much to the worst flooding and landslide that hit Caraga region at the start of this year. 

            Dr. Mamerto Jose Dilangalen Aguas, head of the citizen’s watch group Green Coalition in a press statement said that it is now high time for the Aquino administration to install total revamp of all DENR personnel from Misamis Oriental to Caraga region saying wanton deforestation caused by illegal logging and mining in said areas happened right smack at DENR personnel and official’s faces. 

            “And yet they are not held accountable in all these years even for decades now despite continuing deforestation that all caused these massive destruction of the environment” Aguas said.

            “While government made too much publicity that DENR already stop illegal logging and mining in these areas, the fact remains and it is public knowledge that truckloads of illegally cut logs passed national highway not only at night but even broad daylight with PNP highway patrol groups seemed to play blind, deaf and mute”, Aguas said, who is not only a forester but holder of two Doctoral degrees, Doctors of Philosophy and Public Administration. 

             Professor Aguas observed that downpour of rains that hit the region for three days now actually are not that huge in volume, "they come in smaller rainfalls sometimes in trickles or even in an on and off rainfall, but how come, Caraga experienced worst flooding ever? the answer is no roots of trees in Caraga;s forests holding volume of rain waters is the culprit".

            Aguas said because some influential politicians were allegedly behind wanton illegal mining and logging in Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental and Caraga region where illegal logging is rampant, DENR personnel and officials just play blind, deaf and mute and allowed wanton cutting of trees in the forests right smack in their faces. 

               In fairness, Aguas admitted there are many alleged secret on going illegal logging and mining activities that only the DENR, PNP Highway Patrol Group and wealthy financers allegedly knew through secret agreement without the knowledge of the influential politicians.

               " In some cases some illegal loggers name dropped influential personalities like Mayors, Congressmen, Governors as means of protecting his or her illegal activities because these illegals very much knew that government institutions who are supposed to enforce laws without fear or favor are afraid that by mere mentioning of names of Governors, Congressmen they tremble in fear afraid to be transferred or relieve form their posts" Aguas alleged. 

            Aguas added that in some cases illegal loggers shipped their illegally cut logs at night through close container vans bring to different seaports shipped to Cebu, Manila and that many PNP Highway Patrol groups including knew this.

            He cited an illegal logger who owned sawmill in Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental shipping illegal logs or timber in huge volume at night even at broad daylight through closed container vans without plate numbers. 

            “It is lamentable and a big joke because the only people who do not know illegal activities of  illegal loggers were the DENR, PNP Highway Patrol group, LTO and LGU personnel who install joint checkpoint at the highway where container vans passes regularly for years now”, Aguas said.

               In some cases, escorts, bodyguards of illegal miners and loggers or even legitimate loggers and miners engaged in illegal logging are retired police and military officers or even presently employed policemen and soldiers in the guise of providing security to logging and mining firms. 

               "So who will apprehend logging trucks carrying huge  illegally cut logs when the escorts on board said logging trucks or the ones protecting it are the law enforcers themselves with guns?" Aguas in his allegations claimed. 

            Aguas said many logging and mining activities in the region do not only practiced “Drag cutting and logging” that destroyed habitats but also totally wrecked not yet fully grown plants and trees including disturbance of ecology 

            Aguas added that rising population and many unused low lands because owners refused it to be planted and allowed huge tracts of lands  remained idle have forced many people to move upland or to the forest to engage destructive kaingin for agricultural purposes, for food. 

            “Kaingin or slash and burn method also contributed to deforestation and because there are no longer roots of fully grown trees to hold rainwaters, it will of course flow freely to low lying communities causing floods and landslide that destroyed millions of pesos public and private infrastructures” Aguas said.

            Aguas warned if illegal cutting of trees due logging and mining activities including Kaingin goes unabated, “We will find ourselves floating not only in flood waters but in the ocean of hopelessness where many will perished, millions if not billions of roads, bridges and schools destroyed due wanton destruction of the environment”.

            Aguas explained that Green Coalition unlike other green groups or NGOs is not totally against development or not anti-mining at all but against irresponsible acts that will destroy the environment due to greed and utter disregard of mother nature.

            Aguas said the problem with Philippines on matters of environmental protections can only be attributed into three main stumbling blocks despite many laws that will supposedly punished violators; One is, Corruption, Two, Corruption and three, CORRUPTION. (PNA/Ben Serrano)