MANILA, Dec. 10, 2012—The magnitude of devastation and death that Typhoon “Pablo” has brought to Mindanao is proof that the Aquino Administration’s total log ban is not absolute.
This was what Fr. Pedro “Pete” Montallana, OFM said after Typhoon “Pablo” reportedly caused flashfloods and landslides that destroyed acres of crops, public places and private dwellings, and even killed a number of residents of Compostela Valley, which was the worst hit town during the calamity.
The Franciscan leader of the Save Sierra Madre Network said what happened to Compostela Valley was the same as what happened to Aurora province when it was battered by typhoons “Unding,” “Violeta,” “Winnie,” and “Yoyong” in 2004. Montallana was a parish priest in Dinggalan at that time and has since been an anti-logging advocate.
“[Those] (flashfloods and landslides) are what exactly happened to us back in 2004,” he said, noting however that illegal logging has continued and even worsened in the province after the calamities.
Montallana said their Network was initially impressed by President Aquino’s policy against logging but was later on disappointed because various incidents of interception of log transports have been reported only a year after the moratorium was called.
“We were happy with the logging moratorium but later on was disappointed because the implementation was not serious,” he said.
Montallana said if Malacañang wants to sincerely solve the illegal logging industry and other perennial problems of the environment, the President should not only just replace the DENR leadership but also weed out corrupt personnel and officials thriving within the agency.
“We have been calling on the Palace to replace DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and also implement a systematic cleaning of the agency from corrupt officials. But our calls fell on deaf ears,” he said.
The priest also said government should seriously address the problems of poverty since this is the reason for people to resort to logging, mining and harming the environment just to earn a living.
“Even the indigenous people are enticed to do it. Instead of giving them dole outs through the Pantawid Pamilya program, why not give them tools to till their land and seeds to plant so eventually they can harvest?” he said.
Montallana even said the Network was “ready to cooperate with government to clean up DENR but government is not ready.” (KB/CBCPNews)