4,000 join mass protest action to save Agusan’s Mt. Magdiwata from illegal mining
by Ben Serrano
November 14, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur-More responded to call that instead of 2,000 expected to join people's mass protest showed to a motor caravan. some 4,000 responded by joining yesterday's caravan to Save Mt. Magdiwata
This developed as an estimated 4,000 people from all walks joined on Saturday’“Motor Caravan to Save Mt. Magdiwata” now allegedly being encroached by illegal miners who cut trees for tunnel timbers and other destructive activities causing water supply problems to some 100,000 residents of this capital town of Agusan del Sur province.
The Motor Caravan which is composed of about 200 hundred vehicles some of them were ten wheeler trucks who volunteered to join with an estimated 4,000 people riding in it traveled all around major streets here and ended up at the foot of Mt. Magdiwata range
Some placard bearing caravan participants especially those aboard open cargo trucks were chanting, shouting, " STOP MINING, STOP CUTTING TRESS INSIDE MT. MAGDIWATA" as they raise proudly their placards for viewing public to read calling the same.
The mass protest action to save Mt. Magdiwata was started by an “Ecumenical Mass” celebrated by no less than Diocese of Butuan Bishop, His Eminence Juan De Dios Pueblos, D.D..
Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Modesto Malacdan of the Order of Carmelites of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur Parish Priest RevFr. Marlon Jabonite and United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) Head Minister Rev. Pastor Joel Doria concelebrated last Saturday’s “Ecumenical Mass” with Bishop Pueblos.
In his homily, Butuan Bishop Pueblos challenged at the same time thanked San Francsico, Agusan del Sur residents who attended the ecumenical mass dedicated to Save Mt Magdiwata at the same challenged to be more vigilant in saving Mt. Magdiwata, the Bishop described “gift from God’ that provides drinking water to all.
San Francisco Parish Council President Rosalinda Moreno in the council’s statement she read before 2,000 people mostly Catholics who attended the Ecumenical Mass said the whole Parish Council which composed of more than 25,000 Catholic believers from all over 14 barangays of San Francisco Municipality vehemently opposed all destructive activities inside Mt. Magdiwata watershed area.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Agusan del Sur chapter President Atty. Danilo Samson in the IBP Chapter’s statement he read before the end of the ecumenical mass chided the Provincial Government’s issuance of Cease and Desist Order against all intruders of Mt. Magdiwata watershed saying despite order. more and more encroachment activities continued to invade Mt. Magdiwata.
“We, the IBP Chapter of Agusan del Sur, challenged Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur and the LGU of San Francisco to issue instead arrest order to all illegal miners encroaching Mt. Magdiwata because it seemed the Cease and Desist Order were ineffective to end illegal activities such of cutting of trees inside government declared protected watershed” Samson in protesting angry mood speech he delivered before more than 2,000 ecumenical mass attendees.
Youth sector representative and SK Federation Chairman Jason Abello said the youth sector of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur comprising about 30,000 youths from both out of school youths and students also is supporting other sectors’ mass protest in saving Mt. Magdiwata.
Abello also read statements of support from various SK, youth organizations of this town towards the end of the ecumenical mass where representatives from all sectors were given time to deliver speeches.
Business sector rep, trader Butch Garcia who owned famous Cristina Café and Restaurant here was the most vocal speaker of them all. Garcia chided alleged inutility due failure of concerned government agencies constitutionally tasked to protect watershed areas to stop environmentally destructive activities in Mt. Magdiwata.
Garcia also criticized other members of the business sector’ alleged continuing silence even if they knew, the cause of Mt. Magdiwata was a matter of life and death since it involved water people drink daily.
San Francisco Water District (SFWD) 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 which has nearly 6,000 water concessionaires
“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" SWFD General Manager Elmer Luzon said.
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.