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Racing Towards the Precipice

Kim’ s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Emergency Measures Must Now be Mounted, thus, Stop Commercializing X.U.

As reported by thousands of concerned scientists and environments worldwide during the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland attended by some 200 world eaders last year, “human civilization is now racing towards the precipice, as the doomsday clock is now set at one minute before midnight.” As reported during the Conference, “Since the United Nations Paris conference in late 2015, climate change indicators have escalated so quickly and an emergency response is imperative if civilization is to avoid breakdown and eventual collapse.”

To mitigate climate change, it has become imperative to defunct now the use of coal and replace fossil fuel with clean energy. But as described by environmentalists worldwide, the COP26 was just all BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. No commitment has been done by the world leaders in attendance. Why must they defunct the use of fossil fuel when the 19 Fossil Companies are earning some 15 trillion dollars annually or 10 million dollar every minute, massive raking that they share to powerful politicians, to the mainstream media and to religious groups who are blatantly denying climate change. Indeed, the outpourings of lies continue without let up with regards to the state of the environment.

As Earth Day is fast approaching (April 22), let us reflect for a while on the state of the environment specially here in the City of Golden Friendship and know how vulnerable the city has become to ecological disasters like what happened on December 17, 2011 when Sendong hit the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, killing some 3,000 people and rendering 10,000 families homeless.

First, on the state of the forest ecosystem. Exploit and kill the forest ecosystem and all other ecosystems will perish with all the millions, if not billions, of flora and fauna that have been there for billions of years even before the homo sapiens came into being. In the uplands/hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Lanao provinces, some two hundred thousand hectares of once-upon-a-time dipterocarp forest are now gone and are totally denuded. Seven logging companies, namely, Vicmar Corporation, Valderama & Sons, Roa & Sons, TIPI, Remedios Fortich and Dacudao Logging Company not to mention small but well-armed logger like 2 nd Lt. Desty Eleasar. All of logging activities which happened intensively from the fifties to the nineties were all done illegally as these were done in the prohibited zones, i.e., no logging in forest areas with an altitude of more than 1,000 meters above sea level or in slopy areas with gradient of more then 50%. The forest in ranges of Mt. Kalatungan and Mt. Kitanglad were all within the prohibited zones, yet, all were erased by the loggers from the face of the earth. Also, the finest of trees, i.e, red lauan, almacega, mahogany, narra, etc. should not be cut as prohibited by forestal laws, yet, are now all gone. Why? Don’t you know that for every shipment of logs, a logger would earn some 360 million pesos, massive raking that also went to the pockets of law enforcers? In fact, a logger by the name of the late Desty Eleazer had bragged that he could not be stopped because 90% of those in DENR were under his pay-roll. All of these ten-wheeler logging trucks were passing the thoroughfares of Cagayan de Oro from 12 midnight to 5am when the Cagay-anons were all asleep. Each passing logging truck was giving P5,000 to the checkpoint. Each logging truck was accompanied by an armed man carrying either Armalite or AK-47.

After exploiting the wealth-above-the-ground, the non-stop exploitation of our ecosystems continued. This time, the target is the wealth-below-the-ground as Mindanao oozes with tremendous top quality 72 kinds of minerals, i.e., gold, silver, copper, iron and what have you. Here is how they extract the wealth below the ground though open-pit and hydraulic mining. In fact, tens of hectares of irrigated rice land had been sacrificed to the massive greediness in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro which was financed before through foreign debt, the DENR-SECAL Program. What is so painful is that some of these powerful miners were well-armed Chinese carrying only Tourist Visa. Upon their arrest by Task Force Kinaiyahan which implemented the Writ of Kalikasan in 2014, the arrested well-armed illegal miners were released one week after. Why? Is it true, “dahil may mga kasabwat na powerful people?”

Now, who is suffering from the much-exploited resources? Because of AGAW GUBAT, AGAW LUPA, AGAW TUBIG, AGAW BUHAY, the Lumads are now the poorest of the poor. Our ecological people like the fisherfolk are now living in so, much hunger and poverty as thousands, if not millions, of tons of top soil have destroyed thru massive siltation the mangroves and coral reefs, the spawning ground of fish, as only 5% remain in excellent condition.

Cagayan de Oro is now under strain as another Sendong means about 20,000 will die as predicted by environmental experts. Don’t you know that based on the analysis of experts, “one-inch-high rainfall in the 200 thousand hectares of denuded areas in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro means one-meter-high flood upon reaching the 200-hectare urban center of the city. Ten-inch rainfall means ten-meter-high flood. Pati daw Gaisano, di na iyan makita.

The 14-ha. wooded agricultural space in Manresa will somehow serve as the much needed “shield.” But the plan of the Cebu Landmasters, Inc. to put-up malls and condominiums will destroy Manresa’s mini-forest. What? You have mitigating measures like drainage and canal? That honorable Sirs are just plain “drama,” if that seen in a bigger context of the state of the forest ecosystem in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro. Glaringly, the mitigating or the countervailing measure is now massive replanting, specially of giant bamboo, a great carbon-sink and great water-holder, in the denuded areas which we, together with the Cooperatives of the Lumads, are now doing.

Sirs and Mesdames of CLI and Xavier University, please heed the call of the concerned thousands of scientists and environmentalists world-wide: ‘THE FACT THAT NO EMERGENCY RESPONSE HAS BEEN MOUNTED BY NATIONAL GOVBERNMENTS AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY AND INDEED OF ALL LIFE. TO CONTINUE WITH BUISNESS-AS-USUAL IS TO KNOWINGLY, AND THERFORE DELIBERATELY, COMPOUND THIS CRIME.”

Please CLI, your kind of commercialism, is totally disregarding the cry of Mother Earth as some 40 species of birds will be extinct if you continue your business-as-usual framework. We, the Concerned Parents, Teachers, Alumni and Communities (COPTAC) will harness our collective potential to oppose Xavier’s sacrificing its cultural heritage and go the business-as-usual commercializing in utter disregard to the cry of Mother Earth and the poor people of Cagayan de Oro City. Vatican, let us follow the appeal of Pope Francis in Laudato si’, to hear the cry of the poor and of the Earth. No less than King Solomon in Ecclesiastes said that, “wealth, fame and power are meaningless, utterly meaningless.” Amidst the denigration of spirituality through instant pursuit of wealth and power as humanity is buried deeply n unbridled materialism, commercialism and consumerism, what is important is how to be men and women for others, to serve the least of our brethren, in consonance with the Jesuit pioneers’ vision, from the mundane to the sublime.

MGA TAGA BALULANG MAGMATA NA MU. THOUSANDS OF YOU WILL DIE WHEN ANOTHER SENDONG HITS CAGAYAN DE ORO. AYAW PASAGDI ANG MGA KAKAHUYAN UG KALANGGAMAN SA MANRESA. Oneness with all of God’s creation is true love.

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