Latest Stories

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


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.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

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

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • Malang the croc must regain strength before return to swamp, says mayor
  • Palace: Lacson’s version of Napoles testimony to be evaluated
  • Scientists eye iceberg bigger than Guam
  • Drilon: I’m not on Napoles’ list
  • Sonar finds 1888 San Francisco shipwreck
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace