Groups meet Earth Day with protest

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

GROUPS from various sectors in Cagayan de Oro scored anew the issues that are hurting the environment in Tuesday's celebration of the Earth Day with a protest action as they marched from Press Freedom Monument toward Magsaysay Park.

Around five hundred farmers, Lumads, youths from Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental gathered to air their grievances and tackled the issues on the coal-fired power plants, illegal logging, land-grabbing and others that concern the environment affecting areas in Northern Mindanao.

A ritual, called ‘Pamuhat,’ was conducted at the provincial capitol grounds by the datus (leaders) of various lumad tribes.


“Sa hisgutanan sa kina-iyahan, tanan gyud ma apektohan (When it comes to the environment issue, everyone is affected),” said Jessiemer Loi Algarme, the secretary-general of the League of Filipino Students of Central Mindanao University (LFS-CMU).

Rengie Mayantao, 20, a lumad, said poverty compelled him to stop going to school and blamed the government for its policies allowing foreign companies for the wanton destruction of their ancestral domains.

“Murag legal kami nga ginapalayas sa among yutang kabilin (It seems like we are being legally shooed away from our ancestral domain),” he added.

Amihan Liway Sagbisal, 16, a 2nd year AB Sociology student at Bukidnon State University (BSU) said that “as a youth and as a Filipino, it’s our responsibility (to defend the environment).”

“Ingun sila nga ang katawhan daw mismo ang nagda-ot sa kina-iyan, apan, kato mang mga langyaw, mga agalong yuta-an nga nanag-iya ug mga dagkong korporasyon sa mina ug uban pa. We are all affected, after all, it’s relative,” Sagbisal argued.

Belen Lumapas, 41, a mother of three children, fears with what is happening in the environment not for her but for her children.

“Karun gani, mabati na gyud nato ang grabe ka init ug abnormal nga ulan. Unsa nalang kaha ilang (her children) mamathan?” she exclaimed.

She said that children nowadays are locked up with interactive gadgets with the advancement of technology.

“Nanghina-ot ko sa uban pang mga mama nga muapil sa pagpanalipud sa kinaiyahan ug ipasabot kini sa ilang mga anak,” she added.

Ireneo Udarbe, secgen of Misamis Oriental Farmers Association (MOFA) said that “krisis kunuhay sa enerhiya matud pa sa mga imperyalista.”

“In the Philippines, we already have hydro, solar and geothermal resources for energy. Yet, for the imperialists, it is still insufficient,” he said.

Udarbe said that in Claveria town in Misamis Oriental there used to be a large tract of land the community called the “food basket” of the city, but now it has become a wide pineapple field that served the interests of big corporations.

“Negosyo ang gipa-labi, dili ang katawhan,” he lamented.

Fr. Christopher Ablon of Karapatan asserted that President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s promises about the “matuwid na daan,” and “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” are a phony.

Ablon said the situation of most Filipinos has been worsening bringing them deeper to poverty, in contrast to Aquino’s promises.

‘Coal is not cool’

It can be recalled that there were protests brewing against the opening of the coal-fired power plants by FDC Misamis Power Corporation and Cepalco.

A coal-fired power plant owned Steag State Power Inc. has already been operating since 2006 despite the protest staged by environmentalists in the past.

The Misamis Oriental Farmers Association (MOFA) showed their disappointment of how the local government permits the companies to operate.

Coal-fired power plants are said to omit hazardous elements such as carbon dioxide, mercury and arsenic. These are believed to be harmful to the air and water, and to the people themselves.

Typhoon Sendong survivor, Rhodora Bulosan, in her speech blamed how ‘business’ resulted to climate change that ravaged lives and properties.

Sendong killed thousands of lives, damaged properties and wreaked havoc in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities on December 16, 2011.

‘Not-so legal logging’

“Just so we know, the legal logging is taking bigger hectares of land than those who do illegal logging in the mountains,” said Kadamay – CDO chairman and Balsa Mindanao convener, Francisco Pagayaman.

He added that the widespread banana plantation at the foot of Mount Kitanglad, Bukidnon is sowing fear among the residents in the area.

“The trees in the prospective areas are to be ‘cleared’ for the banana trees that will replace them. And when heavy rains come, the water will go down and erode the soil,” Pagayaman said.

Bulosan recalled how logs destroyed the houses of the residents in Iligan and killed many.


Ronelo Manente, 51, is anxious as his land in Maramag town could be targeted by pineapple-growing companies.

Manente is a farmer who has seven kids attending school except for his four-year old daughter. He wants to become a carpenter since his friends have left farming and now resort to doing carpentry.

Richard Colao, a member of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) lambasted the government’s failure to implement the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) since Corazon Aquino until her son’s administration.

“Seven out of ten farmers do not own a piece of land. Without the farmers, not a grain of rice will be served on your plate right now,” Colao said.

Ada Estepa, chair of the Ecology Ministry Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, said, “There is no other planet in the solar system which God designed for us to live but only this one.” “We should take care of it [...] Let us continue, however, to protest to the government that what they are currently doing is not okay and will never be okay,” Estepa said. (Alyssa Clenuar and Lynyrd Alexsie N. Corrales - XU-DevCom Interns)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 23, 2014.

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