2,000 Agusan residents to stage mass protest against illegal mining, logging in Mt. Magdiwata
by Ben Serrano
November 12, 2010
San Francisco, AGUSAN DEL SUR -An estimated2,000 residentsof this capital town of Agusan del Sur will stage mass protest tomorrow against alleged illegal mining and logging activities within Mt. Magdiwata, a government declared protected watershed area.
San Francisco Water District General Manager Elmer Luzon said they decided to march the streets to dramatize their continuing opposition of the continuing illegal mining and logging activities inside the watershed after concerned government agencies like the Municipal and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices allegedly failed to stop it
San Francisco Water District is getting its only potable water supply source in Mt. Magdiwata for years now. Some 100,000 San Francisco town residents are dependent in their drinking water supply from the water district.
“We have already tried all legal means and done many exhaustive leg works to coordinate with various government concerned agencies but it seems it was not enough as illegal logging and mining activities continue to this day" Luzon toldthis writerin an interview this morning at his office here.
Other problems hounding Mt Magdiwata watershed forest, according to Luzon, were over exploitation, pressure to tap its resources and use its lands due mining, installations of power and communication lines, erosion and siltation of its creeks and streams and almost or near extinction of wild life.
“It is now our lives at stake here as we drink water from the area twenty hours a day and so it is now time to act because government failed to protect our health, our lives which is in grave danger” Luzon added.
Mt.Magdiwatais a government-declared protected watershed area whose area covered is about 1,658 hectares. Some 162 households are living within declared watershed whose political boundaries cover six barangays.
It was declared protected watershed area by then President Fidel Valdez Ramos under Presidential Proclamation No. 282 on October 25, 1993.
Under said proclamation, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was put to task as lead agency to protect said watershed areas from all kind of activities harmful or not within the 1,658 hectares government declared watershed.
San Francisco Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Modesto “Father Estong” Malandac, OCARMM said they expect 2,000 protesters to join “Motor Caravan to Protect Mt Magdiwata Watershed” tomorrow.
Father Malandac (not Fr. Balandet as earlier reported) said tomorrow’s protest action was also spearheaded by multi-sectoral groups from various religious, business and other private sectors and civic organizations of this capital town of Agusan del Sur.
Different religious organizations or denominations here like the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), Pentecostal and Baptist Churches and other evangelical churches’ group were also the ones soliciting support in the campaign against illegal activities within the watershed. (-30-)