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Analysis, General Views, Sendong

Sendong tragedy: miners, loggers call archbishop leftist?

This MindaNews photo shows part of the logs the flood brought down to Iligan City from logging sites. Click on this photo to see more photos and read the MindaNews story.

Emmanuel Mongaya
(Journalist & Blogger)

Are leaders of the Philippine mining and logging industries calling Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma a leftist? This is the obvious gist of a press statement issued in an apparently sweeping, haphazard and desperate attempt at damage control amid loud voices linking mining and logging to the Sendong tragedy.

In a publicity offensive in national and local media, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) hit allegedly leftist and anti-mining organizations for linking large-scale mining to the killer floods wrought by Sendong that devastated the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

The statements did not name the CDO archbishop. But the biggest voice and one of the first to link the tragedy that left over a thousand people dead was Archbishop Ledesma. Here’s account of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in a statement posted in www.cbcpnews.com:

CAGAYAN DE Oro City, Dec. 23, 2011—Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma has blamed illegal logging and irresponsible mining activities for the massive flooding that submerged Cagayan de Oro and neighboring towns at the height of Typhoon Sendong, December 16. 

Illegal logging and mining activities have caused the degradation of the environment and the siltation of the river bed, said the archbishop in a pastoral letter released December 21.

“The continued hydraulic flush mining along Iponan River has likewise caused widespread flooding of the Canitoan-Iponan areas of the city,” he added.

Ledesma said it is important to boost the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council to protect and conserve Cagayan de Oro’s river system, “our most precious natural resource after our human resources.”

Earlier, multi-sectoral groups led by Ledesma has petitioned President Benigno Aquino III to create the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council that will oversee the protection of the city’s watershed area. 

The resolution urged Aquino to prioritize the completion of the River Basin plan and to mandate the immediate coordination among responsible agencies and officials for its finalization. 

“We also encourage the President to certify as urgent the pending legislative measures in Congress regarding the creation of the said River Basin Management Council and to implore the members of Congress to hasten the passage of such bill into law, which is tied to the adaptation strategy which is embodied in the national climate change action plan which the President signed last November 24, 2011,” the resolution partly read.

The entire river basin area of Cagayan de Oro River extends to the northwestern part of Bukidnon and surrounding areas. (CBCPNews)”

Aside from sweepingly labeling all critics as leftists, the pro-mining and logging publicity offensive likewise attempts to confuse and dishes out lies:

“The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has confirmed that there are no large-scale mining operations in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. We call on authorities to investigate reports of illegal logging and illegal small-scale mining activities in these areas and to impose maximum penalties on those who will be found to have violated the law,” CMP President Philip Romualdez said in a statement.

Of course, the mining operations are located in the very wide watersheds beyond the boundaries of both Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

Meanwhile, Philippine Wood Producers Association (PWPA) deputy executive director Maila R. Vasquez denied the presence of commercial logging operations in northern Mindanao. Commercial loggers have not operated in 10 months because of the logging ban imposed by Malacañang in February, she said.

So where did the thousands of cut logs that destroyed houses and now littering the coastline and clogging the rivers come from?

About anol_cebu

As chief digital officer of PRworks Inc., Emmanuel Mongaya manages the digital communications of the public relations agency. He also blogs, writes columns for Sun.Star Cebu and Superbalita, and serves as administrator for “Maghisgot Kitag Politika Bay,” Cebu’s dynamic political community in Facebook.

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