MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 19, 2011) - Filipino anti-mining and environmental groups have welcomed a proposal by President Benigno Aquino III for a total log ban in the country after he visited the flood-stricken region of Mindanao.
The Alyansa Tigil Mina and Haribon Foundation have urged Aquino to immediately declare the total log ban.
“We are delighted by the President’s proclamation this weekend. However, we seek his urgent action in signing an executive order declaring a total log ban in CARAGA Region, Palawan, Sierra Madre and Sibuyan Island. But this time, the government should ensure proper coordination with local government units and local communities so that the total log ban policy will be effectively and genuinely implemented.” said Jaybee Garganera, of the Alyansa Tigil Mina.
Haribon Executive Director Blas Tabaranza said: "The government estimated that only 24 percent of our country is forested, but according to Dr. Percy Sajise, we need at least 54 percent for our forests to maintain their roles in preventing soil erosion and flooding. We have waited long enough - if we do not protect and restore our forests now, we put more lives at risk of even more disasters, including the effects of climate change.”
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center Executive Director Judy Pasimio added, “Aquino should walk the talk and declare the total log ban now. But he should as well comprehensively address and put a stop to the drivers of deforestation, one of the most notorious of whish is large-scale mining. Large-scale mining requires massive cutting of trees and forest denudation that result in massive flooding and landslides.”
"We can only hope that President Aquino will be committed to upholding the imminent log ban throughout his administration. We also hope that he sees the forests for the trees, as a log ban will not be enough to halt the degradation of our environment. The Forest Resources Bill, as well as the National Land Use and the Minerals Management Bills, should have been prioritized and passed long ago,” Tabaranza added.
Haribon Foundation is an environmental organization currently pushing for the passage of the Forest Resource Bill.
Meanwhile, group leaders from the provinces of Romblon, Palawan and CARAGA fear that with logging and deforestation will cause more flooding that will denude their lands. In many areas in the country, continuous logging and mining have caused flooding.
Sr. Lydia Lascano, ICM, Directress of the Social Action Center, Diocese of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, said: “We in the Diocese of Tandag commend Pres. Noy for his mandate to impose the total log ban! Our province has been suffering from floods for many years now due largely to logging and mining. The floods here last January was the biggest and worst so far. We appeal to President Aquino not to approve applications for Integrated Forest Management Agreements, mining, and logging in the whole region.”
“An executive order for a total log ban should include a thorough review of all IFMAs towards cancellation of those who have become facade for illegal logging, a provision for an alternative livelihood for communities to prevent practices that destroy the forest, and a comprehensive reforestation program to combat the rapid denudation of the Sierra Madre mountain range,” said Fr. Pete Montallana, of the Save Sierra Madre Network, which is composed of non-governmental and peoples organizations working toward the protection of the largest remaining tracts of rainforests in Luzon.