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HomeOpinionDatu Fausto Orason known as Datu Sandigan Brave Environmental Warrior

Datu Fausto Orason known as Datu Sandigan Brave Environmental Warrior

Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera

He was a courageous environmental warrior but has no weapon except his great passion to protect God’s vanishing creation which he considered the highest form of worshipping Magbabaya. Datu Fausto Orasan known as Datu Sandigan was the over-all chieftain of the Higaonon Tribe in Cagayan de Oro.

He was never cowed, no fear at all after seven attempts to his life, rained by bullets from high-powered guns but miraculously escaping death. I would joked with him that “duna gyud ka anting-anting Datu” and he would reply, “kung si Magbabaya naa kanato, kinsa man ang mobatok kanato.”

On the 8 th attempt to his life, he finally met Magbabaya. Those bullets sprayed at his back while driving a motorcycle 3:30 in the afternoon in Barangay Tuburan a Saturday, in September, 2014 which was done in a traitorous manner may have silenced him but not his cause. Never will these diabolic killers stop a cause that is greater than any life. As Khalil Gibran said, “Death is stronger than life, but love is stronger than death.” That love for a fallen comrade will put him to remain in our hearts … forever.

I know for certain that he is now in the loving embrace of God. Each one of us is a little consciousness, just like a little stream of consciousness that has no other destination but to the Ocean of Consciousness called God.

But for Datu Sandigan who had no fear to give-up his life to protect God’s vanishing creation, that is, in fact, a manifestation that his consciousness was indeed linked to that Ocean of Consciousness, because only that kind of spiritual connection will make one surrender his earthly life. Yes, everything is inter- connected in the universe, be it a simple flower or a distant star.

But for those who are so engrossed in unbridled materialism and consumerism, so blinded by instant pursuit of wealth and power, be loggers, miners and wily corrupt politicians, who are sacrificing the people and environment to the altar of greed, wealth and power, they have no even an iota of consciousness, and it ever, such consciousness is linked not to the sublime but to the mundane and to a rotten system that is now collapsing as it is devoid of spirituality.

Knowing that the picture on logging and mining, which are all done illegally, is just a tip of the iceberg (one-tenth knowm, nine-tenth hidden), I wonder who really ordered the killing of Datu Sandigan? It was so horrible to contemplate that recently some 6 Chinese nationals carrying only tourist visa were recently arrested doing illegal mining in Cagayan de Oro. Well, what else is new. When we were implementing the Writ of Kalikasan in 2013, Task Force Kinaiyahan was shocked to see in the campsite of the Chinese-miners, we found Armalites, Ak-47 and bombs. Five illegal miners who are all Chinese and carrying only Tourist Visa were arrested. Task Force Kinaiyahan’s surveillance and attack came about because of the information given to us by no less than Datu Sandigan. He was a member of Sulog, One Sendong is Enough Movement which is tasked to monitor illegal logging activities. Thus, it was Ipsa Loquitor who were the killers but until now, no one was arrested on the killing of Datu Sandigan. In fact, after the illegal miners arrest, we didn’t know that they were released a week after. Why? Until now, we are still so puzzled.

Perhaps, not everyone knows that Datu Sandigan’s work in stopping illegal logging and mining in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro was in line with the Order of the Court of Appeals in connection with the issuance of Writ of Kalikasan or the Environmental Protection Order upon the petition of Sulog and the environmental movements in Cagayan de Oro.

The Court of Appeals has ordered in 2013 government agencies (DENR, EMB and MGB), the LGUs and Law Enforcers (AFP, PNP and NBI) including the Bureau of Immigration (as there are foreigners acting as tourists bu involved in the theft of minerals) and Sulog (a multi-sectoral environmental coalition of cooperatives, church-based organizations, academe and tribal groups) to undertake actions to clear Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental and Iligan, from all sorts of illegal mining and logging activities.

What pains me no end is that puzzling question, why must it be Datu Sandigan coming from the civilian component (Sulog) who must die? Where are the government people who must be the ones to really take the cudgels of stopping all these illegal activities as they are being paid for that?

Well, on the second thought, I am not surprised. Having been in the environmental movement for more than three decades, there is no such thing as rule of law in the environment. Look at our dipterocarp forest in those elevated areas more than one thousand meters above sea level or in hilly areas with more than 50 percent gradient where logging is prohibited by law.

There should never be cutting of trees there, but there are no more trees up there as these were all plundered by the untouchabled loggers. I remember confronting a formers DENR Regional Executive Director telling me in 1991 when we were barricading logging trucks that “the loggers and miners are more powerful than the government.” And another DENR RED telling us in the City Council after I presented the horrible realities on logging and mining sometime in 2010, “better legalize these illegal activities because we cannot stop them.”

If I remember right, my outright response was, “You know Director, we better legalize kidnapping, hold-upping and even rape because the victims are just very few. But when you allow these illegal activities on mining and logging to continue, many will become victims of environmental disasters, in fact, am afraid that thousands will die.” If a may recall, they all laughed and called me a “prophet of doom.”

Well Sendong came just a less than a year after those laughter leaving on its path the deaths of more than 3,000 people and rendering 11,000 families homeless. Somehow, the people have been awakened. But the Filipinos has the tendency to have amnesia as still we cannot moderate the greed of these miners and loggers whose determination to kill is as their greed.

Today, with the death of Datu Sandigan Fausto Orasan, let us serve notice to one and all that we will leave no stone unturned and call resoundingly for justice. That is the least we can do. Better still, let us continue the fight for ecological integrity and security, all for the greater glory of Magbabaya! Join us in Sulog!

Datu Sandigan, you can now have your rest in the loving embrace of our Creator. Let notice be served to one and all that your death will become a springboard to catapult, your cause, our cause, God’s cause, to greater heights! Indeed, death has no match against our strong will to protect God’s vanishing creation.

Let us feel the essence of God’s creation, be forest, mountains, rivers, seas and savor the beauty of a flower whose essence, just like a song, seems to come from the Great Beyond. Wake-up all who are victims of the fallacies of life, so engrossed in the mundane.

Datu Sandigan has leaped to the Great Beyond, a life that is far greater than this life. But his spirit will always be with us, with all of God’s creation including the stars worthy of one who just died for God’s vanishing creation.



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