Prepared and produced by
Balsa Mindanao February 2012 Cagayan de Oro City
BALSA Mindanao (Bulig alang sa Mindanao/Help for Mindanao) is a broad Mindanao-wide network of church and church-based organizations, schools, disaster response NGOs, local executives, professional groups, youth and students, women, partylists, and concerned individuals. It is a citizen-led response to the immense humanitarian crisis brought about by Typhoon Sendong. BALSA takes off from the efforts of the Rural Missionaries of the PhilippinesNorthern Mindanao and Panday Bulig NGO which pioneered the humanitarian campaign for Northern Mindanao. It takes inspiration from, and is therefore a continuation of, the national citizen-led disaster response called BALSA (Bayanihan alay sa Sambayanan) in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy in Luzon in 2009. It is a peopleâ€™s mobilization for disaster response and climate justice. It relies on a stream of volunteers from all over Mindanao, who bring with them various expertise and contributions needed to help empower and rebuild affected communities.
...the mudslide was the devil on a rampage coming in on us in the dead of night.” — a refugee from Macasandig, recalling the night of December 16, 2011 in Cagayan de Oro City
s we go through the ruins of Typhoon Sendong, nagging, persistent questions arise: Why this? Why so many deaths? Why such a devastation? Could we have mitigated or even prevented such a disaster? Who is accountable and why? What must we do so we can be more prepared when tragedies like this happen? In order to exonerate themselves, high-ranking government officials and responsible agencies wrangle over the real reasons for the death and destruction wreaked by Typhoon Sendong. They say it was all because of nature’s wrath and there was nothing we could do about it – a heavy downpour which should have taken a month happened in just a few hours. Others pinpoint the narrowness of the Cagayan River’s outlet to the sea and the high tide which coincided with the flood. Some blame the victims for having lived near the river though many of them had been there for decades. Not until the real reasons are uncovered, and studied, could we start to rectify our mistakes. In the case of Typhoon Sendong, it is quite important that we arrive at the scientific and correct understanding of how and why it happened so as to avert or mitigate a similar disaster in the future. Though some lessons are learned the hard way, we can at least pinpoint the real reasons and try not to repeat the same mistakes all over again. This primer is an effort to elucidate what mother nature has been trying to tell us all along. Its conclusions and recommendations are based on a series of researches, interviews, data gathered in the course of our organizing work in Bukidnon, Cagayan and Iligan. It may be used as an educational tool for organizing and mobilizing the victims of Typhoon Sendong as we work collectively to save our ecosystem and try to repair the damage done as a result of the wanton plunder of our environment.
In a nutshell, what exactly are the main reasons for the December 16-17 disaster in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan?
ased on our initial investigations and data culled from years of peasant and community organizing in the outlying barrios of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, there are five main reasons for the tragedy of December 16-17. First is forest denudation which has caused extensive damage to the Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan watersheds. Second is the uncontrolled expansion of pineapple and banana plantations at the foot of Mt Kitanglad, located above the city of Cagayan de Oro. Third is the continuing mining operations in many areas of Lanao and Bukidnon aggravating the siltation of the rivers and their tributaries. Fourth is climate change, a phenomenon which has brought storms and floods all over the world. Fifth is governmentâ€™s failure to seriously address the phenomenon of environmental disasters (despite the experiences of Typhoon Ondoy, Ormoc flashflood, Ginsaugon landslide and many others and despite the fact that the Philippines is one of the countries in the world with the greatest number of environmental disasters). These reasons have their roots in the insatiable greed of big business to extract our natural resourcesâ€“ logs, minerals like copper and gold, and export crops such as pineapple, banana and sugarâ€“ at the expense of the environment. Everything that mother nature could give, they get. They plunder our natural wealth and leave the people Cagayan poor and exploited. Iligan City Other Areas TOTAL de Oro City Plantations, logKilled 737 693 42 1,472 ging, mining and Missing 555 466 53 1,074 gross government neTotal Washout 5,801 5,246 3,786 14,833 glect have caused the Partial Washout 12,635 14,874 10,043 37,552 Sendong tragedy; it is man-made.
ears rolled down Nanay Estella’s eyes as she recalled the events of December 16-17, 2011. A resident of Tambo, Macasandig one of communities heaviest hit by Sendong’s path of destruction, Nanay was lucky enough to survive the deluge. “Pasalamat gayud ko og daku sa Ginoo nga buhi pa ko ug walay namatay sa among pamilya” (Thank God I am still alive and no one in the family perished), says she. She tells that the flood waters came very quickly, describing it as a demon-like entity which engulfed the entire community in a sea of mud and logs in a matter of minutes. “Paspas gayud kaayo ang pagsaka sa tubig kay pagka alas 10 taga hawak na man ang tubig nga naa sa silong sa among balay” (The water rose so quickly; at ten pm the water was already up to my waist), she adds. Nanay Estella recalled that around midnight she woke up to screams of her daughter saying “Mama! Bangon na mo! Naa naa ang tubig! Mangamatay mo diha!” (Mama, wake up! The water’s here. You will die inside!) Rattled, she immediately rose up only to find that she could no longer open their front door because of the pressure from the
flood waters. She wondered how she was able to jump out of their house through the windows with two grandchildren in her arms. While out in the open, the darkness made their escape difficult. “Lisud kaayo ang among paglangoy kay ngitngit. Igo ra nako ginapaminaw kun asa modiretso. Samtang sa layo, madungog nimo ang butobuto sa tubig, mabati sad nimo ang pagbuto-buto sa imong kasing-kasing sa kakulba.” (It was difficult in the dark. I just listened very hard to where I should go. We could hear the rush of mud and stones; my heartbeat seemed louder.) Nanay said that even the rooftops could not provide absolute safety. The first rooftop, says she, was not safe as the floodwaters kept on rising. With the help of their boarders who worked at Dakay construction she and her family had to cross over a total of seven houses to get to their neighbour Noni Roa for refuge. Nanay Estella, together with her family and several other individuals were rescued from the rooftop on the morning of December 17. She says that it was the longest night of her life. She was much thankful to God and to her neighbours for her survival. The memory of Sendong shall forever be etched in her memory. (picture of people on top of house or of Nanay Estella and her two grandchildren).
Added to this is the haphazard urban development of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan where subdivisions, informal settlements, dams, and condominiums have been allowed to mushroom without due regard for a rational, urban plan including a system of risk reduction and disaster preparedness.
What is the connection between the denuded forest and damaged watershed to Typhoon Sendong?
he Philippines is a beautiful, mountainous archipelago. It is one of the 18 megadiverse countries in the world. It used to have vast forests with more than 50,000 species of plants and animals, most of which can only be found here. During the Spanish colonization, the Philippine forest totaled 27 million hectares; in 1917 it still had 17 million hectares or more than 50% of its total land area. In 2002 we had only 5.2 million hectares and many experts have warned us of the dire consequences of this situation. It is the only country in Southeast Asia with the thinnest forest cover. The watersheds, the source of our rivers and the most important buffer zones for floods have dwindled to a very precarious state. (Remollino, Desertification in the Making, Bulatlat Dec 2004.) In Bukidnon, only 25% of the forest is left; the loggers have taken most of the trees in the Talakag-Bukidnon rain forest. They have also denuded the KapaiDigkilaan-Rogongon rainforest in Lanao Sur â€“ the most important buffer for the floods in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. Ecologists in the Philippines and all over the world have expressed concern over the unbridled abuse of our forests. As early as the â€˜80s we have been warned of the dire consequences of denudation but the big loggers in Northern Mindanao like Oloy Roa, Valderama, NALCO, Enrile to name a few, went on to ravage the forest. From 1961 to 1992, a total of 540,012 hectares in Bukidnon and neighboring provinces were covered by Timber License Agreements. The Marcos dictatorship and the succeeding administrations gave them the right to
thousands of hectares of prime forest lands and to export logs â€“ making them millionaires overnight. Yet, it is usually the illegal loggers and kaingeros who are blamed for denuding the forest; the big legal loggers are never in the line of fire and DENR officials who abet and collude with the loggers are never critized nor reprimanded. Laws that are supposed to protect the forest are used to degrade the forest. While the government has ceased issuing timber license agreements more than two decades ago, these have evolved into better-sounding, sugar-coated tenurial instruments in the essence of socalled community integration but actually just euphemisms of the former TLAs. A case in point is the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) granted to six big companies covering 53,578 hectares in Northern Mindanao, and the 298 Community Based Forest Management Agreements (CBFMA) covering 213,770 hectares. All have been issued Resource Use Permits or the right to engage in logging by no less than the DENR. And they say we have a log ban?
Why did so much mud, stones, and debris pound the houses and communities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan?
arlier, the heavy rains had already started in the mountains of Bukidnon and Lanao. Since there are very little trees left in the watershed to retain the water, mud and stones came rushing down with the heavy downpour. In a few hours, the Cagayan River was inundated, its banks overflowed to more than a hundred meters on each side. The force of the flood was so much that in just a few hours, the communities along the river banks were devastated. In an account by a survivor from Kalakala, Cagayan de Oro: “Alas onse sa gabii naabot na sa tubig ang among higdaanan. Pila ka minutos taga hawak na ang tubig sulod sa among balay. Dili na maabli ang pultahan sa kakusog sa tubig. Mikatkat mi sa atop apan sige gihapon saka sa tubig ug napugos mi mobalhin sa atop sa silingan nga mas taas ug mas lig-on. Daw ginahigop mi sa kusog nga lapok ug mga bato ug gapnod. Maayo na lang nakaabot ra gyud mi sa atop. Uban sa akong tulo ka anak didto mi nagpaabot nga mohupa ang baha.” (“I saw the [flood]water had already reached our beds around 11 pm. In a few minutes, it was up to my waist. We couldn’t open the door because the water pressure was strong. We climbed up the roof, but the water kept rising so we transferred to the neighbors’ house which was bigger and stronger. It was as if we were being
swallowed by mud and stones. Thank God we were able to reach the roof and there we fearfully waited for the water to subside.”) The mud which inundated the communities of Cagayan de Oro was so much that even after a month, inches of mud were still evident on many streets and especially near the river banks. Most affected were the communities of Kalakala, Isla de Oro, Balulang, Macasandig, Consolacion and Kauswagan. A resident emphatically points to the mud and the debris which inundated his house: “Naggikan sa bukid ang lapok ug bato nga gianod sa baha ug midaut sa akong balay ug mipatay sa daghang tawo. Tungod seguro kay wala nay kakahoyan nga makapugong, mao nga pagbunok sa ulan, apil nabanlas ang yuta.” (“The mud and stones that destroyed our house and killed a lot of people came from the mountains. Maybe because there are no more trees to hold the earth so when the rains came, the soil went with it.”) The extent of the mudslide illustrates how damaged our watersheds are. The province Bukidnon where lies the headwaters of Mindanao’s major rivers has a remaining natural forest cover of 24.9%, with the following breakdown: 14.23% mossy forest, 2.79% primary forest, and 7.87% secondary forest.This percentage of forest cover is already far lower than the ideal minimum requirement forest cover to maintain an ecologically healthy environment. According to the US Vegetation survey, a healthy forest ecosystem can give its ecological function at 56% forest cover, others say at 40% forest cover for an island ecosystem. With the disappearance of trees, what we can find in the denuded landscape of Bukidnon are vast plantations of pineapple, banana, and sugar. Fr. Raluto, goes on to elucidate on the deforestation of Bukidnon. “As Science has repeatedly taught us, water and forests are intimately linked because forests actually serve as efficient watersheds. Expectedly, many provinces in Mindanao are plagued by various forms of ecological disasters as a consequence of severe deforestation in Bukidnon. Moreover, with the severe deforestation in the upland of Bukidnon, its watersheds are also expected to be degraded and this means an eventual drop in the levels of water sources, as well as shortage of water supply in the lowland provinces of Mindanao. Thus,
with this critical ecological condition, we are highly susceptible to soil-related disasters as our remaining forest cover could no longer sufficiently contain and absorb the amount of water brought about by typhoons and monsoon rains. For us, the incidence of annual typhoons and heavy monsoon rains could always mean serious soil erosion, flash floods, and disastrous landslides.” (The Sendong tragedy in Mindanao and the ecosystem services of the Bukidnon forests, MindaViews, 31 Dec. 2011) In Iligan, the mudflow also carried thousands of logs which pounded and destroyed the houses. Dead bodies were found under the logs and rescue operations were impeded because there were so many logs and debris floating on the river. “There are two watersheds that drain to Iligan, one that has an area of approximately 65,000 hectares and one with around 7,800 hectares (estimated only through GE Path). The bigger watershed drains water from as far as Talakag in Bukidnon and Kapai and Tagoloan II in Lanao del Sur. The smaller watershed drains partly the towns of Tagoloan, Baloi, and Pantaran in Lanao del Norte. All of these watersheds drain into an area approximately 1,500 hectares within Iligan proper. It is like having two large buckets pouring their contents to a very small one.” (Marcos Mordeno, Unprepared for the Worst, Mindanews, 31 December 2011.)
How important is the watershed to the ecosystem?
watershed is an area of land that feeds all the water running under it and draining off of it into a body of water. It combines with other watersheds to form a network of rivers and streams that progressively drain into larger water areas. Topography determines where and how water flows. Ridge tops surrounding a body of water determine the boundary of a watershed. Imagine turning an open umbrella upside down in the rain. Rain that hits anywhere within the umbrella's surface area would go to the bottom at the center of the umbrella. Any rain that didn't hit the umbrella would fall to the ground. The umbrella is like a watershed; it collects everything that falls into it. (source: Environmental Protection Agency)
151,870.84 Malitbog, Manolo, Fortich, Sumilao, Impasug-ong and Malaybalay City
110,631.06 Talakag, Baungon and Libona
57,362.27 Don Carlos, Pangantucan, Kalilangan, Kadingilan and Talakag
Do you know how many gallons of water a tree can retain?
As much as a thousand gallons, depending on the size and kind of the tree. Trees and forests are still the best solution to floods.
How big are the plantations in Bukidnon? Why are they considered as a major factor in the killer floods of Typhoon Sendong?
he current plantation area in Mt Kitanglad is estimated at 80,000 hectares. These are the areas planted mainly to the del Monte pineapple and the Stanfilco Dole bananas. The del Monte pineapple plantation has been in the area since 1926; now it is in the municipalities of Manolo Fortich, Libona, Baungon and Talakag â€“ all overlooking Cagayan de Oro. The Stanfilco Dole bananas are more recent but also spans a considerable area (more than 21,000 has.), aggressively expanding further into the Bukidnon watershed. With the prospect of big profit and the encouragement from the government, more plantations have been built into the denuded landscape of Bukidnon. Based on the land use map from the provincial government, agricultural production activities (mostly pineapple and banana production) happen even within forestlands. (see Annex 1 for the list of plantations in Bukidnon) Situated on plateaus with elevations ranging from 1,600 to 2,200 feet, the del Monte pineapple plantation covers an area of 23,000 hectares that includes at least four municipalities in Bukidnon Province of Mindanao. Harvested fruits are sent to Del Monte plant in Bugo, Cagayan de Oro City for processing and canning. Products such as sliced pineapple and pineapple juice carrying the household brand Del Monte are sent to different countries like the United States, Japan and European and Middle Eastern Countries. In 2008 Del Monte announced a net profit of P$39.8 million (from http://noelautor.hubpages.com/ hub/The-Del-Monte-Pineapple-Plantation-in-Bukidnon-Philippines)
The high amount of rainfall which the soil cannot absorb quickly leaches out nutrients. Water that is not absorbed by the soil becomes runoff and erodes the soil. As the soil becomes compacted by the intensive cropping, machinery, trampling of soil, removal of organic material, and pounding of rain, the soil’s ability to absorb water decreases and runoff and erosion increases. The removal of vegetation along streams destabilizes their banks and increases lateral erosion. The result is rapid erosion of the land and increased sedimentation in streams and water bodies. In an environmental investigation mission conducted by the Center for Environmental Concerns on the intensive agricultural practices of the Dolefil pineapple plantation in Polomolok, it was found that the plantation greatly affected the watershed of the Matutum catena causing the flashfloods in nearby towns and as far as General Santos City. According to the investigation, Dolefil's plantation contouring and diverting natural waterways caused land scouring that caused the loss of about 380,000 cubic meters of soil or close to 2.53 million hectares furrow slice. The hydrology of the region was also extensively altered with the deposition of the drainage lines and spring waters and artificial dissection of landscape because of gullying… Water from the plantations was diverted to the trail resulting to land wasting and erosions which also ate up sizeable portions of the farms.”The expansion of monocultured pineapple plantation by Dolefil was said to be the cause of about 65% of flashfloods and erosions in the area. (Center for Environmental Concerns, Environmental Indicators in Mindanao,in a powerpoint presentation , 8 November 2011)
Are there mining and quarrying activities near Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, adding to the siltation of the rivers?
ccording to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as of February 2011 a total of 12 mining companies are currently operating in the Sendong-affected areas in Region 10. Exploration permits have also been given to nine (9) companies, which total more than 42,000 hectares. MINING TENEMENT IN NORTHERN MINDANAO COMPANIES CURRENTLY OPERATING
HECTARES FOR EXPLORATION PERMIT
Cagayan de Oro Bukidnon TOTAL
Source: Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region â€“ 10 Web: http://www.mgb10.com
However, according to a research conducted by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) there are 51 companies which applied for exploration permits in the province of Bukidnon alone. (Blood Money, Plunder and Militarization of Lumad Communities in Mindanao 2011) Current mining exploration have been observed in Brgys Guihian and Calabugao of Impasug-ong town, near Tagoloan river.
Mining, as we have experienced, has caused disasters like landslides, floods and pollution in many parts of the country. Barely two weeks after Typhoon Sendong, a landslide killed at least 40 people in the mining areas of Brgy Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley. And yet, the government has tenaciously implemented the much-hated Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which allows the unmitigated exploitation of our lands by the foreign multinational mining companies. In the name of â€œprogressâ€? or additional investment for the Philippine economy, the government has turned to mining as a solution. But in the long years of having offered our mineral resources to the foreign mining companies, has there been any progress at all? BROWN WATERS. An aerial view from a helicopter of the heavy siltation in the Agusan River in Barangay Agusan, Cagayan de Oro City as it empties into Macajalar Bay, on August 31, 2011. MindaNews photo and text by Froilan Gallardo (http://www.mindanews. com/photo-of-theday/2011/09/04/brownwaters/)
Are there no government policies and programs for the protection of our forest, watershed and rivers?
here are programs to protect the environment; but on paper only. And sometimes the law on environment itself is used to destroy the environment. For instance Mt. Kitanglad which has been declared a National Integrated and Protected Area (NIPAS) and is a major watershed providing water for power generation, irrigation, and domestic use for the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Davao is also the place where the vast plantations are located. Our environmental laws are crafted with so many loopholes and these are usually used by politicos and big business for their own ends. In the Revised
Forestry Code, there is no clear, workable dermacation or boundaries of watersheds. In this way, forests and watersheds have dwindled because of the encroachment of logging, mining and plantations into “protected areas.” Environmental laws and ordinances also contradict each other. For instance, Circular 2005-05 by former environment secretary Michael Defensor adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which declared that “a forest is an area of land with a minimum size of 0.5 to 1 hectare, with a tree cover of more than 10-30%, with trees in the potential to reach a height of 2-5 meters at maturity in situ.” In effect this declares the banana plantations as “forest” and is an invitation for more plantations to be built in Mt Kitanglad and other “protected areas”. The list below is a sampling of how our laws and policies on environment have been used or manipulated by big business in connivance with corrupt government officials, further degrading the environment: LAW
Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines – basic forestry standards such as multiple use, forest utilization and management, and criminal offenses and penalties. Amended by PD 865, PD 1559, PD 1775, BP 83, RA 7161 and EO 277.
On paper only. In actual fact, legal and illegal logging have been rampant in many watershed or protected areas
National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS). This is the principal law on protected areas, encompassing outstanding remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related ecosystems, all of which are designated as protected areas. The protected areas include strict and nature reserve, natural monument, wildlife sanctuary, protected landscapes and seascapes, resource reserve and natural biotic areas. (http:// pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADL681.pdf)
The boundaries of the forest lines have not been defined. This despite Article XII, Sec. 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states: “The Congress shall as soon as possible, determine by law the specific limits of forest lands and national parks, marking clearly their boundaries on the ground. Thereafter, such forest lands and national parks shall be conserved and may not be increased nor diminished, except by law. The Congress shall provide, for such period as it may determine measures to prohibit logging in endangered forests and watershed areas”. (http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADL681. pdf)
Bukidnon Provincial Code on Mt. Kitanglad (Republic Act No. 8978, dated November 09, 2000) Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) Sec. 58. Environmental Consideration– ancestral domains or parts of the ancestral domain which are considered as watershed, mangrove wildlife sanctuary, wilderness, protected areas, forest cover and or reforestation must be protected by the tribe in coordination with the concerned agency (NCIP).
Many tribes of indigenous peoples have petitioned the government to scrap this law because IPRA has actually been used as the very mechanism for the entry of largescale mining and agribusiness plantations with the able assistance of the NCIP
Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) RA 8435, Section 12 Protection of Wateshed Areas All watersheds that are sources of water for existing and potential irrigable areas and recharge areas of major aquifers identified by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall be preserved as such at all times.
AFMA gave way to the extensive land conversion of many areas of agriculture and fisheries for giant multinational companies which lead to the loss of peasant lands and more poverty and suffering for our farmers and fishermen.
Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) a production sharing contract which gives the right to develop, manage, protect and utilize a specified area of forestland and forest resources therein for a period of 25 years and may be renewed for another 25-year period, in accordance with an approved Comprehensive Development and Management Plan (CDMP) and under which both parties share in its produce. (DENR AO No. 99-53).
Fast growing trees like gemelina, bagras, falcatta are planted mainly for the purpose of logging and not for reforestation. After 7-8 years these fast growing trees must be harvested and the deforestation continues all over again. Many loggers have further enriched themselves not only from the industrial tree plantation but from the remaining trees in their IFMA areas.
Writ of Kalikasan a legal mechanism for environmentally endangered communities and individuals to seek judicial assistance. (Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases A.M. No. 09-68-SC Rule 7, Sec. 1).
Only two cases have yet filed the Writ of Kalikasan; the stoppage of the 117 km. oil pipeline of the First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) in Makati and the closure of the Irisan Dump in Baguio City.
As early as 2010, scientists had already warned of a possible disaster due to the siltation of the Cagayan River. Why didn’t the government heed this?
he Climate Change Conference of the Philippines (CCCP) in 2010 already warned of possible floodings in Cagayan de Oro. According to Dr Esteban Godilano, a space technology expert, “Alam na nila 'yan. Tatlong beses akong nag-present doon. Una noong National Summit on the Impact of Climate Change sa buong Mindanao, sa Cagayan de Oro din … Siguro naghahanap pa ng pondo, kaya lang inabot na ng delubyo.” (interaksyon.com, 22 December 2011) The maps of CCCP showed the extreme denudation of the Cagayan watershed, “... so it was but natural that water, mud and debris will directly flow into the Cagayan de Oro river. Even if there were no rains in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, if there are heavy rains in Bukidnon and Lanao, it will surely flood in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and adjoining lowlands,” Dr Godilano said.
No one in government heeded the CCCP warnings. More priority was given to other programs like Oplan Bayanihan and the Conditional Cash Transfers or 4Ps. The SMS based early warning system established through a memorandum of agreement between telecommunication companies and the NDRRMC was not utilized in the duration of Typhoon Sendong. The proposed Php 5 billion budget for calamity preparedness was vetoed by Pres. Benigno Aquino III from the 2011 national budget, which Aquino rationalized by stating that the calamity fund should be used for actual calamities and not for preparatory activities.”
Should the people hold the government accountable for the death and destruction of typhoon Sendong?
he government is accountable for gross negligence and lack of concern for the people’s safety and disaster preparedness in the event of a calamity such as Typhoon Sendong. More damning is the fact that it is government itself which has become the instrumentality through which acquisitive foreign multinational companies and local capitalists and landlords extracted our natural resources, destroyed the environment and exploited our people. Pres. Benigno Aquino III with his “matuwid na daan” (righteous path) has continued to carry out the same environmentally destructive policies of past administrations, to wit, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which allows and encourages multinational companies to extract our rich mineral resources, the Investment Incentives Act and Export Incentives Act which gives a lot of leverage in favor of foreign investors and colonial trade; the policy on
Land-Use Conversion which has cleared the way for the unimpeded entry of big agribusiness monocrop plantations, and all the policies and programs attendant to Globalization which nailed our country to inequitable and unfair agreements at the expense of our people and the environment.
What is the local government’s accountability in the Sendong tragedy?
n January 2009, the Cagayan River overflowed in torrential currents and also claimed lives and damaged property. But nobody, including the local government, learned from that incident. The LGU could have at least informed the people of what the January 2009 flood entailed. Instead, it allowed informal settlers to increase rapidly in areas like Isla de Oro. It also allowed the construction of “golden mile,” a tiny boulevard which closed the river channel between the delta and the eastern bank, narrowing further the Cagayan River’s outlet to the sea. The local government also failed to conduct serious dredging of the heavily-silted Cagayan River despite the presence of dredging machines and earlier warnings from the DENR and other agencies. During the tragedy itself, a lot of rescue teams of the AFP and government agencies were so busy retrieving the dead but allegedly no rescue boats were dispatched to save the lives of people floating on Macajalar Bay and as far as Camiguin island and Bohol. As one survivor puts it: “Daghan pa man ang buhi nga naglutaw sa dagat. Daghan ang namatay tungod wala na sila kaagwanta sa katugnaw ug kagutom. Ang mga buhi unta ang unang gitabang. Seguro,
daghan pa gyud unta ang masalbar kun may common sense and gubyerno nga magpadala og rescue teams didto sa dagat.” (There were still a lot of people floating on the ocean. Many perished because they could not stand the cold and their injuries. It should have been the living who were given priorities. They would have survived if only the government had the common sense to immediately send out rescue teams to the open sea.) The LGU’s height of insensitivity and total lack of concern was the dumping of unclaimed bodies in the city’s garbage dump of Cagayan de Oro. The local governments of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan were so ill-prepared and so inept to be able to respond to the killer flood of Typhoon Sendong. Obviously, and as bitter experience has shown, not a single system of workable disaster preparedness and emergency response has been established. With the constant threat of floods, landslides and other disasters in our country, would the national and local governments really and truly do something about this?
Has the government done any relief work as immediate response to the calamity? Are the relief funds from our kababayan and from friends abroad accounted for?
elief efforts have been made by the DSWD, the LGU and other governmental agencies. Substantial relief work has also been done by the private sector, the NGOs, the churches and the progressive people’s organizations. Foreign relief aid as of January 6 has already reached $22.444 million. (PINAS.NET, 12 Jan 2012). The question is, have the funds been spent to where
they should really go– to the victims and survivors languishing in evacuation centers all over the city? Or has it found its way to the coffers of our ‘good politicos’?
Is there a possibility of a disaster like Typhoon Sendong happening again in Mindanao or in any part of the country?
od forbid, but yes, there is a possibility of another similar disaster happening in any of our towns and cities. If we don’t sincerely listen to what mother nature has been telling us all along, another CDO-Iligan tragedy is in the making. And things may be too late. Now is the time for us to make decisive moves in order to avert or mitigate the onslaught of nature which is the direct result of long years of environmental abuse. ;; We must educate each and everyone in our community and in our planet on the environment and how to protect it. ;; We must teach our people the ramifications of disaster preparedness or what to do in the event of a calamity. ;; We must organize self-help groups, community organizations, neighborhood committees and other “pagtinabangay” formations in case a disaster occurs.
What are our demands to the Aquino administration in order to mitigate or avert tragedies such as typhoon Sendong? a.
ancel all large scale mining activities and programs in the Philippines. Do not allow the entry of multinational mining companies. Clarify and enforce strict regulation on sustainable mining and punish all those who do not follow such regulations. Repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Enact the Peopleâ€™s Mining Bill. mmediately rescind the expansion of export crop plantations. Nationalize the pineapple and banana export industry owned, controlled or operated by the foreign transnational companies like del Monte and Dole-Stanfilco. Encourage the planting of food crops like rice and corn and vegetables for the food security of the nation. Allot substantial funds for agricultural subsidies for small farmers and cultivators. nforce the logban. Protect the watersheds and set their clear dermacation. Enjoin the populace to reforest our mountains through a definite program of action. Discourage swidden agriculture (kaingin) and educate the people on forest conservation. epeal the land conversion policy and create a rational rural and urban planning for all communities. Regulate the construction of subdivisions, dams, condominiums and other infrastructure which could be inimical to the overall rational plan of the area. ystematize and implement a viable, practical program for disaster preparedness. Mobilize the academe, the church, the private sector and the peopleâ€™s organizations in a serious and extensive education on the environment and environmental care and protection. emove from office and punish all corrupt officials who are in cahoots with big business in exploiting our natural resources and our environment. Have the political will to do what must be done in order to save mother earth.
What are the survivorsâ€™ demands to the government? a.
Indemnification. Families who have been directly hit by the storm must be indemnified for the loss of their loved ones, the destruction of their homes and crops. Those who are responsible for the destruction of the environment particularly the loggers, the miners and the agribusiness companies must indemnify. Relief and rehabilitation. Priority must be given to those who are presently in the evacuation centers. Rehabilitation and reconstruction must be started now in a place that is not only safe but also accessible to the residentsâ€™ livelihood. A clear accounting must be made on how relief assistance has been implemented. Opportunists and corrupt officials who ride on the peopleâ€™s misfortune must be exposed and meted punishment. BALSA MINDANAO 3 February 2012
Bibliography 1. Mordeno, Marcos Tokenism in environment conservation? Mindanews 21 April 2011 2. Accountability in the Typhoon Sendong Experience , Position paper by the Kalikasan Party List January 13, 2012 3. http://www.josemariasison.org (http://s.tt/154oR) 4. http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADL681.pdf Philippine Forest and Wildlife Law Enforcement ( a paper submitted to the USAID) 5. http://forestry.denr.gov.ph/primer.htm 6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Kitanglad 7. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=IFMA(Phils) 8. http://www.cecphils.org/feedback-2011-ish1-national-patrimony-and-peace 9. http://www.chrispforr.net/row2/chrisphil7/neocolonial/neocolonial.htm 10. http://www.mindanews.com/special-reports/2011/12/31/special-report-mindanaofloods-unprepared-for-the-worst-2/ 11. Remollino, Alexander Desertification in the Making, Bulatlat December 2004 12. Center for Environmental Concerns, Environmental Indicators in Mindanao,in a powerpoint presentation , 8 Nov2011.
Photo Credits 1. Balsa Mindanao, www.balsamindanao.net 2. GALLARDO, Froilan, MindaNews website, http://www.mindanews.com/photo-ofthe-day/2011/09/04/brown-waters/ 3. JOSE, Coleen, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, http://pulitzercenter.org/slideshows/philippines-mindanao-agusan-del-sur-logging-industry-extraction-resources 4. Nacalaban, Joey P., “40 days after Sendong: Grieving and letting go”, Sunstar Cagayan de Oro website, http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/ feature/2012/01/26/40-days-after-sendong-grieving-and-letting-go-202721 5. Nigeria News Online, “Philippines Typhoon Washi: Pictures show the carnage wrought on communities”, http://news2.onlinenigeria.com/world/uk/128759-philippines-typhoon-washi-pictures-show-the-carnage-wrought-on-communities.html with copyrighted images and texts from EPA, AFP Getty Images and Reuters. 6. YAP, Anthony from Phantom Maelstrom blogspot, http://phantommaelstrom. blogspot.com/2011/12/mass-burials-prepared-in-iligan-and.html, downloaded 13 February 2012
Appendix 1: List of Mining and Quarrying Companies in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Lanao Permit Holder
Type of Permit/ Agreement
Mcwealth Mining Corp.
Mineral processing permit
Digkilaan Iligan City
Platinum Group Metals
Manticao, Misamis Oriental
Illigan City, Lanao del Norte
Singtech Mining and Trading Co. Ltd., Inc.
Naawan, Misamis Oriental
SYH Trading Corp.
El Salvador, Misamis Oriental
Mining Phil. Inc.
Iligan City, Lanao del Norte
Alsons Cement Corp.
Mineral Production sharing agreement
Lugait, Misamis Oriental; Talacogon & Dalipuga Iligan City
537.3774 Shale / Limestone
Mindanao Portland Cement Corp.
Kiwalan, Kalubihan, Tagulbo Iligan City
323.0953 Shale / Limestone
Iligan Cement Corporation
Sta. Filomena, Bunawan, Kiwalan Iligan City
Holcim Phils. Manufacturing Corp.
Dalipuga, Iligan City; Lugait, Misamis Oriental
26.78 Ferronickel, Limetone Copper
519.09 Shale / Limestone 433.4240 Shale
Eagle Crest Mining and Dev’t Corp. Exploration Permit Pres: Ms. Zenaida Arellano
Dansolihon Cagayan de Oro City
1,961.2546 Iron and orther minerals
Cypress Mining and Dev’t Corp. Pres: Ms. Ava Maria de Dios
Dansolihon, Cagayan de Oro City
3,341.7473 Iron and other Minerals
Glendale Mining and Dev’t Corp. Pres: Rudy C. Tan
1,561.4608 Iron and other minerals
Linkstone Park Resources, Inc. Pres: Cesario P. Magsaysay
Opol, Naawan, Manticao Misamis Oriental.
13,954.374 Chromite and other associated minerals
Wolfland Resources, Inc. Pres. Anders West
Mainit, Iligan City
761 Gold and others
CEKAS Dev’t Corp.
Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental
810 Chromite and others
APC Mining Corp.
Lourdes, Alubijid Misamis Oriental
San Cristo Mineral Exploration
Iglosad San Fernando Bukidnon
Mountain Range Resources Corp.
Awang, Opol: Hinagdanan, El Salvador Misamis Oriental
2,367.62 Chromite, Gold, Copper and oters 13,756.679 Gold, Silver, Copper and Associated Minerals 1,606.72 Chromite and other associated mineralsS 1,152 Feldspar, white clay
Source: Mines and Geosciences Bureau - Region 10 Website at http://www.mgb10.com/mgb10/, accessed by Balsa Mindanao on January 22, 2012
Appendix 2: Partial List of Agribusiness Plantations in Bukidnon COMPANY
LAND AREA (HAS.)
Pineapple Plantations Del Monte Phils
Del Monte Phils
1,800 900 1,471.28
Davao Agri-Ventures Corp
Southern Fresh products Inc
Del Monte Phils
Banana Plantations AMS Farming Corp
Dole-Stanfilco North Skyland
Manupali Agri-Development Corp
Dole-Stanfilco Skyland Division
Dole Stanfilco South Skyland
Unified Group of Panabo Coop
Agrinanas Development Co.
Dole Stanfilco North Skyland Zone
Dole Stanfilco Skyland Zone
Dole Stanfilco North Skyland Zone
Highland High-Valued Crops Producer Lantapan Multi-Purpose Coop
Mt. Kitanglad Agri-ventures, Inc
Agrinanas Devâ€™t Co., Inc
Dole Stanfilco Skyland Zone
Dole Stanfilco South Skyland Zone
Dole Stanfilco Skyland Zone
Agrinanas Devâ€™t Co., Inc
Total number of land devoted to sugarcane = 55,279.
SOURCE: Bureau of Agricultural Statistics website at countrystat.bas.gov.ph., accessed by Balsa Mindanao on January 23, 2012.