CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Protesters, including those displaced by the Dec. 17 disaster here and in Iligan City, marched on this city’s streets to demand a stop to logging that had turned floods in Iligan on that day to a murky graveyard for nearly 1,000 residents of the city.
Carrying placards bearing the images of the dead, the protesters marched from the Pilgrim College in the downtown area to the Kagay-an Bridge.
At the bridge, families of the victims and survivors prayed in silence for about 17 minutes before bells and gongs were sounded late Wednesday.
They placed candles and flowers on a small raft, which they floated on the Cayagan River.
Aldeem Yanez, media coordinator for Balsa Mindanao, said the protest was aimed against illegal logging and commercial plantations in areas around the city.
These activities, he said, was being blamed for the devastating effects of the flood.
At the height of the flood, survivors and rescuers recounted logs pummeling homes or crushing people to death.
The killer logs that were unleashed in Iligan came mostly from the mountains of Lanao del Sur where a logging company, Vicmar, based in Makati City was operating.
Yanez said the results of a study his group made pointed to commercial plantations in the Bukidnon towns of Monolo Fortich, Libona, Talakag and Baungon as among the factors that turned the floods deadlier in Cagayan de Oro.
“Initial findings reveal the possible primary involvement of large-scale commercial plantations,” said Yanez.
“The mud, rocks and logs that destroyed lives and properties along the Cagayan River came from the upland areas of the plantations,” he said.
Yanez said this was the reason the protesters were demanding a stop to the issuance of permits for logging and plantations or the cancellation of existing ones.
Authorities, he said, should also go after violators of forestry laws.
Yanez said Balsa Mindanao and its supporters were also demanding that the voices of the victims be heard in terms of decision-making in the rehabilitation process.
“The relief (effort) is not enough, they should have a say in the decision-making process, as well,” he said.
In Iligan City, hundreds of people also converged at the bank of the Mandulog River, where a Mass was held for the 40th day of the deaths of the victims of the Dec. 17 disaster.
Relatives of those killed and missing also erected white wooden crosses in the spots where their houses formerly stood.
They released balloons and sky lanterns into the air, lighted candles along the riverbank before joining a solidarity walk toward the city center.
On Wednesday evening, flood victims from Bayug Island, who took shelter in the Ubaldo Laya evacuation center staged a “Survivors’ Night” where they took turns in displaying talents in singing, comical drama and dancing. Reports from Cai Panlilio and Ryan Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao