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Illegal mining, logging blamed for high death toll in Compostela Valley

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Residents try to cross the flooded Macanhan road in Barangay Carmen leading towards Barangay Balulang as flood waters caused by Typhoon “Pablo” blocked the main road as the Cagayan de Oro River overflowed on Tuesday afternoon. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/BOBBY LAGSA

MANILA, Philippines — Environment and natural resources officials attributed on Thursday the high number of casualties in several Compostela Valley towns to unheeded government warnings on typhoon Pablo, emphasizing that illegal logging and illegal mining were to blame for the devastation.

“The number of casualties would have been reduced or even avoided if they listened to the advisory,” Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Leo Jasareno told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, referring to residents of Barangays (villages) Andap and Poblacion in New Bataan town of the Province.

Jasareno said that two days before typhoon Pablo was anticipated to hit the Mindanao area, the DENR issued advisories to the local government units in flashflood-prone and landslide-prone areas, which were on the path of the typhoon.

Barangays Andap and Poblacion, he said, were particularly mentioned in the advisory as a flashflood-prone area where mass evacuation of residents was strongly recommended.

“If the advisory was heeded, there would have been no deaths,” Jasareno told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He observed that the provinces of Misamis and Surigao as well as Cagayan de Oro City had apparently followed the government advisory and had a much less casualties.

The DENR advisories had been based on the geo-hazard map plotted by the agency 48 hours before typhoon Pablo hit. It indicated flood-prone and flashflood-prone areas covering 3,000 barangays (villages), most of them in Compostela Valley particularly in New Bataan town.

Landslides in mountainous areas of the province, he said, were worsened by illegal miners.

“I think this is one instance where the government was most prepared,” Environment and Natural Resources secretary Ramon Paje told the Philippine Daily Inquirer and added, “But giving warnings is one thing and heeding them is really another.”

“This (Pablo’s devastation) is the effect of illegal logging and illegal mining,” he said.

Paje pointed out that eight days before Pablo was anticipated to enter the Philippine area of responsibility and was still typhoon Bopha, the state weather bureau had been giving out advisories. “Four days before it entered the PAR, Pagasa was already defining the typhoon’s path and 72 hours before landfall, President Aquino was presiding over a meeting in Malacañang for the preparations and making public announcements at the same time on what to expect on typhoon Pablo.” (PAGASA stands for the Philippine Atmospherics, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.)

The DENR secretary told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the geo-hazard map was plotted and advisories were sent out to landslide-prone and flashflood prone areas anticipated to fall within the 600-kilometer radius of the typhoon.

“I am sure the advisories were acted on by the local government units but they were maybe difficult to believe for people whose area is rarely hit by tropical cyclones. Two days before the typhoon, the sun was still shining which could have made it hard for residents there to believe that a typhoon was coming,” he said.

Paje said people should now listen and heed government warnings on weather disturbances and accept highly intense tropical cyclones and massive volumes of precipitation as the “new normal.”

According to Paje, out of the 31 identified hotspots of the activity, 80 percent are in the Davao and Caraga regions, including Compostela Valley, which were hardest hit by the typhoon.

Paje said that the devastation in the regions could be blamed in illegal logging operations in the two regions. “This is now proving that total log ban is right. Several quarters are criticizing the declaration of a total log ban but look at what happened? It is now proving that we really must stop timber harvesting, especially in our natural forests,” he stressed.

Anti-illegal logging operations in Mindanao have been reclassified as active military operations and the Department of National Defense as well as the Armed Forces have been put at the forefront because of the presence of armed groups and insurgents in the region and the increasing number of civilian casualties in the enforcement of the total log ban.

The total log ban has been in effect since February last year when President Aquino ordered a halt to all logging operations in natural forests nationwide, virtually stopping timber extraction of about 300 million board feet a year.


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Tags: Bopha , Calamity , cyclones , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Disasters , floods , landslides , Leo Jasareno , logging , mining and geosciences bureau , Mining and quarrying , Mudslides , News , Pablo , Ramon Paje , relief and rehabilitation , rescue , typhoon casualties , typhoon death toll , typhoons


  • doctor_mengele

    As you see, ALL the local officials in this regions are ALL involved in illegal logging and tong pats from provincial small scale mining permits.
    Sila sila rin yan. They use this money to enrich themselves at the expense for thier constituents.
    There is one governor who often says, “mabuti na mag putol ng puno, kaya sa mag benta ng Shabu”…di ako naniniwala dyan. For sure, pati Shabu, hawak ng mga local officials na yan.
    Kilabutan na kayo mga hayop kayo. Wala kayong konsensya. Pinapatay nyo mga tao para lang maka kamal kayo ng limpak limpak na pera.
    Pareho kayong gahaman tulad no Mike Arroyo, ang taong walang kabusugan.
    Maawa kayo sa mga taong na salanta ng mga delubyo!!!!

  • $20926843

    If my memory serves me right, this present inconsequential president in malacanang have issued directives to then late DILG Sec Robredo, DENR Sec Paje and DND Sec Gazmin to investigate,  apprehend and prosecute illegal loggers in this Mindanao area after a devastating typhoon ravaged CDO and Iligan in which more than a thousand were killed while he was partying with his loyal PSG.  And after that he had also marching orders to his designated Governor OIC Hattaman of ARMM to do the same.  What happened to these series of directives to these concerned people who are his factotums?  It seems nothing has happened.  It only means that he is not being taken seriously by these people.  A mark of a poor and weak leader! This is what this country got when it elected a person of dubious character and mental make up to the highest position of the land…..

    • http://twitter.com/erncastillo ern

      siya ang ihinalal ng nakakarami. Shut up! If you want a dictatorial government, go immigrate to china… where people are treated equal…. as pigs.

      And who work for these illegal mines? The same people who were drowned!..including their relatives and friends. Only God holds the fate and destiny of mankind. Kahit punuin mo ng kahoy ang buong kalupaan, habang may matitigas ang ulo, ang kalikasan ay mayroong paraan.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WTIRTIXLBR5X47RMVKB3T43SWA charles

    charge Comval Governuy Arthur Uy with incompetence, and investigate his mining interests in the province..!…as well as fire all incompetent DENR officials for failining their job to protect the environment….!!!!!! 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/4JMYFQOSPLXK6KLS75EEL5KMGE JANE GREPEARL

      Man is that right.  This Chinese Governor says there are no illegal logging activities because there are no more large trees.  That’s because he cut all of them down in his first term.  You watch theser Uy’s.  One a Governor and another a mayor.  Ask the Tagum Mayor why the new city hall isn’t finished.  Corrupt contracts and scamming from contractors.  Now he wants to feild his son.  It only gets more stupid.

  • rolandtr

    These Manila Bureaucrats are so ignorant of Mindanao. Compostela Valley( part of Davao del Norte then) was a Timber Licensing Agreement zone during the Marcos years. Look at the old political families in the province and cross check them with the TLA holders of the area in the 60s and 70s. They were supposed to plant new trees in replacement of the trees they irreponsibly harvested. But they never planted the replacement tress. And the government then did not care. There are no trees to illegally logged in this areas anymore. Of course this do not make the current LGU leaders less guilty for not mitigating a geographically hazzardous area..a mountain range for a LGU backdrop with a huge river running right in the middle of the town without any setback for flash flooding…When will they learn ignorance cost lives!

  • opinyonlangpo

    That is one reason and it is negligence on the government side. Evacuation of residents to safe areas was another cause, and yes they should know the difference between safe and comfortably convenient as seen in their selection of evacuation centers. But Mike_1974 said otherwise, it can’t be avoided since they were in evacuation center in a high risk area . . . lame.

  • NoWorryBHappy

      Environment and natural resources
    officials attributed on Thursday the high number of casualties in
    several Compostela Valley towns to unheeded government warnings on
    typhoon Pablo, emphasizing that illegal logging and illegal mining were
    to blame for the devastation.
    :
    Corrupt local politicians and military officials involved in illegal logging and mining have once again proven to be the true CRIMINALS of  our society. If they also did their job in evacuating the people, these hundreds of deaths would not have happened. Instead of helping in the evacuation, they were probably busy securing the illegal logs harvested don’t get washed out in the flash floods. It is really time to make the death penalty the punishment for plunder and corruption. The hundreds and even thousands of lives lost because of the corrupt practices can no longer and must never be ignored.

  • 019074

    I expect government both local and national to take two approached on natural calamities:
    1. Pro-active and
    2. Re-active Approached

    Pro- active are those efforts to lessen the impact should natural calamity will strike once more. it may be: clearing the drainage, massive tree planting to help absorbed rain water, safe guarding remaining trees on the “KALBONG” forest.

    Re-active are efforts to ensure victims or affected families get rescued, proper medical care to affected families, place of refuge just in case calamity will strike once more. provision of sufficient rescue equipment so as not to endanger the rescuers.Able bodied Filipinos has in his mind to help in times of need, but right agency should better equipped them, rescuer’s lives must not be place into imminent danger…. equipped them.

  • 019074

    The Typhoon doen’st originate in philippines, Palau Island was hit too by Typhoon.
    With or without, LOGGING or MINING….. tamaan ang pinas.

    I expect government both local and national to take two approached on natural calamities:1. Pro-active and2. Re-active ApproachedPro- active are those efforts to lessen the impact should natural calamity will strike once more. it may be: clearing the drainage, massive tree planting to help absorbed rain water, safe guarding remaining trees on the “KALBONG” forest.Re-active are efforts to ensure victims or affected families get rescued, proper medical care to affected families, place of refuge just in case calamity will strike once more. provision of sufficient rescue equipment so as not to endanger the rescuers.

    Able bodied Filipinos has in his mind to help in times of need, but right agency should better equipped them, rescuer’s lives must not be place into imminent danger…. equipped them.

  • Josemakabayan

    Makonsyensya naman sana kayo mga loggers , mga mineros,legal o illegal, at mga pulitikos NASA likod nyo,nasisira ang kalikasan at marami namamatay Dahil sa takaw nyo sa pera at kapangyarihan !!!! Sana kayo na Lang ang mapinsala Dahil sa kagahaman nyo !!!!

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Ormoc, real quezon, cdo/iligan, compostela valley ano lugar pa ba ang dapat sumunod para matuto lang ang gobyerno, mga tao at lalo na makunsensiya ang mga nagsasamantala sa kalikasan?

  • MonMayuga

    “This (Pablo devastation) is the effect of illegal mining and illegal logging,” said Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje.

    There have been reports that DENR employees and forestry officials who patrol those areas are being killed.

    Those employees are unarmed, and even if they were, they have no chance against heavily armed private armies of illegal logging and illegal mining operators.

    There has been reports too, that the army is going to be deployed there to combat these illegal private armies.

    This is war. The government should use the full force at is disposal to fight against these hard headed illegal loggers and illegal miners before the whole of Mindanao, and the whole country for that matter is levelled to with sea.

  • wilfredo h. villena

    Sa hinder lands of Mindanao lahat ng illegal ay legal. To date it’s payback time, mother nature is knocking on your door, run as fast as you can or you die. AMEN 

  • boybakal

    ILLEGAL LOGGING, ILLEGAL MINING. blamed for high death toll in Compostela Valley.

    Why blame the Illegals…Compostela Valley and most of Mindanao had been LOGGED AND MINED  by LEGAL LOGGERS AND MINERS .then.
    There’s nothing left to log and mine. There are no more trees to cut.
    The Logging Companies of Politicians loggers denuded the Forests and mountains of Mindanao.
    Go to Davao, Butuan and you will know Big Time Loggers. These names are  synonymous to logging.
    These legal loggers barbered the mountains without reforestation. Now, they are permanently bold that even hair transplant will not grow.
    Enough of blame game, there are no illegal logging and no illegal mining…
    they are just MAGKAKAHOY NOT MAGTROTROSO.

  • Your_King

    Ah yes…illegal mining. Another one of the important issues being neglected by Aquino or another issue he hasn’t done enough about. Now because of that many peoples’ lives were claimed. This reminds us of the severe floods that ravaged and victimized millions of filipinos in Manila in August. Aquino in that instance did not provide a flood control system that could have prevented such a devastation. Instead of fixing the problem at the root he waits till after the problem is already all out in the open.



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