[Statement] CALLING OUR PRESIDENT RODY DUTERTE, Sagipin ang Sierra Madre mountains -SSMNAI

CALLING OUR PRESIDENT RODY DUTERTE,
Sagipin ang Sierra Madre mountains

Dear President-Elect Rody

save sierra madre network allianceWe members of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Inc. (SSMNAI) (compose of 35 NGOs/Pos) congratulate you as our new President. We have been praying for you- for your safety, your campaign and you as you will face enormous problems.

Sierra Madre mountain located in three (3) regions in Luzon (Region 2, 3, 4A) nee your political will to stop all forms of destruction from deforestation, denudations, disintegration due to DENR wrong policies, corrupt govt people and unabated extraction of natural forest (logging, mining, and Indigenous People (IP) rights violations.

The following issues that we from SSMNAI appeal for your immediate intervention through suspension, stopping, or prosecuting.

1. Black Sand Mining in Cagayan – For a long time people have been opposing black sand mining because this erodes the protection of the residents from being eaten up by the sea. Stop There are plenty of application.

2. Ilagan-Divilacan Road – The road will plow in the heart of the Northern Sierra Madre Protected Area. This will open up the forests and destroy the biodiversity of the country. The Philippines is one of top 17 countries in biodiversity. Many of the plants and animals are found only in the Sierra Madre. Stop.

3. Coal Fired Thermal power plants in Mauban, Pagbilao, Atimonan, also preparing in Sariaya should be reviewed. In Atimonan there are alleged irregularities in getting social acceptability, DENR not transparent. Solar and wind.

4. Apeco – This project was pushed by the Angaras violating many laws. The government has been pouring money which has not produced locators. The elected mayor is prevented by Comelec from being proclaimed on the grounds that he is Chinese so that the pro Apeco be seated. Comelec decision is suspect. No budget.

5. Angat Watershed – This watershed is crucial in source of water for Metro Manila for 97% supply but due to constant increase of informal settlers who are mostly illegal loggers, kaingeros and charcoal makers there is a imminent danger of deforestation and denudation. Lack of funds and personnel could not cope up to the increase of upland dwellers. We could not blame the poor due to the govt failure of land reform and lack of alternative livelihood and yet we cannot allow our forest to suffer. No forest means no water. We appeal to our government to strictly promote no human activities and no human settlements within watershed except for the IPs who live in harmony with nature.

6. Ipo Watershed – Same thing with Ipo watershed that need to put a joint military and police force to stop the lost command group who operate a syndicated logging operation and land grabbing/positioning. Our government now (DENR/MWSS) are helpless and hopeless to stop the deforestation and denudation of such Ipo watershed. We appeal to implement a no non-sense forest protection program to arrest lawlessness and stop a reforestation recycled scam of the seeming combined corrupt-DENR-tree planters. The DENR in in-charge of the forest protection and yet the MWSS is in-charge of giving funds for such protection since they alone collect environmental fees from millions water user but up to now no significant funding is given to our Ipo watershed forest protection.

7. Mining in Dinapigue. This started disguised as a small scale mining but actually destroying the mountains. The NCIP facilitated the FPIC from the IPs favoring the mining. There has not been real in depth explanation that does not consider the culture of the IPs. Some IPs complains about the selling of their CADT area. Local government favours mining and there is a report that the mayor is operating small scale gold mining. There is a need for investigation as to the truth of what is happening in Dinapigue.

8. Gattaran, Cagayan. Irrigation being used as front for mining.

9. Marikina Watershed. After Ondoy in 2009 there have been complaints that Marikina Watershed is being destroyed by logging, charcoal making, quarrying, subdivisions, etc. A scientist explained that if that continues Ondoy tragedy would be repeated because of a destroyed watershed. So much water will just flow funneled into Marikina because there are no more trees to absorb the water. DENR did not have a meaningful solution to the problem. What is clear is that it has no guts to implement what would protect the people vis-à-vis vested interests. We need a dedicated DENR.

10. New Centennial Dams (Laiban, Kaliwa, Kanan B1 dams and Sumag Dam. There has not been transparency regarding these dams. The IPs felt manipulated. The Local government in General Nakar received money from dam proponents. We are preparing to bring them court. The Climate change was not a factor when the studies of these dams were made. There is a need for more study before these dams are approved because of the need for more trees and dams actually produce methane gas that is 34times worse than carbon dioxide.

Rains as predicted by scientists would be like pouring water. Downstream there are 100,000 peopled endangered. Moreover in 1880 there was a big earthquake and the churches in Manila, Infanta and Mauban were destroyed. There are alternatives to building more dams: Singapore New Water which process old water, the Pasig-Laguna Lake, collecting rain water, disciplined use of water. Building dams bring a lot of profit. See also the 28-kilometer 4-meter wide tunnel to be built from Kaliwa to Antipolo 200 meters down. Why that deep – to get gold?

11. Coal mining – Pagbilao, Mauban, Atimonan, Sariaya – Coal mining contributes a lot to global warming and is health hazards. It attracts a lot of investors because of the money it brings. There is a need to review the process. Social acceptability has been manipulated and DENR has not been transparent of the documents. There is a need for review.

12. Logging, kaingin and Livelihood. There is need to integrated the maximum use of land by the use of organic farming so that the people themselves can live at the same time they understand the importance of the forests and begin to accept the responsibility to protect the forests.

13. CADTs of the IPs. The law safeguarding the rights of the IPs should be implemented. In the last administration the JAO between the DENR, DA, LRA and the NCIP was imposed on the NCIP so much so that it literally blocked the issuance of the CADT in many areas in the Sierra Madre. Many times the NCIP favours the companies rather than the genuine needs of the IPs. Corruption in the NCIP has to be looked into.

14. For a long time we have seen the corruption inside the DENR. FOI administrative order can be of great help to clean it up. During the time of Angelo Reyes when Task Force Sierra Madre was included in the investigation of the anomalies inside DENR, we were discovering a lot. However it was stopped. There are so many who know of the anomalies but could not contribute to cleaning up DENR because of the lack of a system. There has to be an overhaul of the bureaucracy of the DENR. Cases should be filed on those found guilty of corruption. Maximize the help of environmentalists in becoming eyes and ears of the government to monitor the environment. There has to be strong collaboration between DENR and NGOs and POs to promote the environment.

15. Re-orienting the whole mindset of DENR of all of us regarding our natural resources is important. It should focus on protecting our natural resources which have been very much depleted. This means that funds should be allotted to that. Permit to exploit the natural resources should be restricted and strict monitoring should be done. Once we have restored back our natural resources then we can be more generous to use them up.

NGP has to investigated because in the Sierra Madre it became more as a income generating project for the DENR personnel and their allies. We can involve the ordinary people in this investigation.

Sincerely yours,

Fr. Pete Montallana Br. Martin Francisco,
Chairperson of SSMNAI Board Member SSMNA
Cp.# 09173043596 Cp.# 09175503182

 

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