Illegal logging exposé touches a raw nerveBy Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
My exposé in this space on Saturday identifying the officials in Davao Oriental province who are reported to be behind the illegal logging activities in the mountains of Baganga and Cateel towns has made me unpopular among some of my province mates, including my relatives.
It was a bombshell that came as a shock to many in “Contra-Costa” or “East Coast” as Davao Oriental is known among natives of the province.
The officials I named in my exposé were Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang (lst District, Davao Oriental), Gov. Corazon Malanyaon and her brother Cateel Mayor Camilo Nuñez.
“How could he have done that to officials of his province?” asked one of my relatives in Manay, which is two towns away from Baganga and three towns away from Cateel.
My sister Wanda sent me the following text message Saturday:
“Cora (Governor Malanyaon) is devastated by your column to the point of questioning her faith in God. She really cried and poured out all her sentiments to our friend Peluchi.
“Especially now that she has a much bigger problem attending to the needs of her constituents. Perhaps d column was written at d wrong time when people could hardly pick up from typhoon Pablo. My heart goes out to my friend n I think she did her best.”
Another relative was quoted as saying, “Nanga sa yagsuwat pa siya ng makadugang ng problema sa kanato probinsiya (Why did he have to write something that would create more problems for our province)?”
Dayanghirang and Malanyaon are family friends, and that’s the reason my relatives and some friends in my home province can’t understand why I came out with Saturday’s exposé.
So sorry, my loved ones!
But I was just doing my job as a journalist.
To paraphrase President Quezon: My loyalty to my relatives and friends ends where my loyalty to my profession and country begins.
* * *
Baganga and Cateel were the hardest hit by Typhoon “Pablo” because the super-hurricane made landfall in the two towns.
The two towns suffered a double whammy at the height of “Pablo”: strong winds that sent buildings crashing and felled coconut trees, and logs that cascaded from the mountains, knocking down houses in the way of rampaging floodwaters.
Had it not been for the supertyphoon, the illegal activities would not have been exposed.
A view from a helicopter that flew over Baganga and Cateel revealed numerous stumps in the mountains and thousands of logs in bald spots that used to be thick forests.
Many of those logs rolled down the mountain slope, rampaged in swollen rivers and bulldozed bridges and houses in the two towns.
Needless to say, hundreds were killed by the logs that destroyed their houses.
* * *
I can’t understand why Malacañang has kept quiet all this time about the illegal logs that were found in the mountains of the two towns and those that killed many townspeople during Pablo.
Clearly, Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and his people were sleeping on the job of
protecting our forests.
Illegal logging had been going on in the mountains of Baganga and Cateel and was made public only now in the aftermath of Pablo.
But the fruits of the illegal logging activities had been seen by local folks in the province but they chose to keep quiet.
People, however, point out to visitors the villa in Barangay Zaragosa in Manay owned by Congressman Dayanghirang.
The villa, surrounded by a fence, contains four structures: a two-story mansion, a guest house, a big hall for entertaining visitors and two other houses.
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