Latest Stories


People power guards Agusan mountain


AUTHORITIES dismantle mining shacks that were put up inside the Mt. Magdiwata watershed. CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur—Mt. Magdiwata, the only source of water in households here and a natural barrier against storms, is under threat again by the same people who abused it in 2010.

Residents sounded the alarm on the resurgence of illegal logging and illegal mining inside and near the watershed early this month after learning that poachers have become bolder.

In November 2010, some 4,000 residents went on a caravan to the foot of the mountain to call for a stop to illegal mining activities involving local businessmen in partnership with Chinese financiers within the buffer zone of the watershed in the guise of sand and gravel operations.

The protest actions came as illegal mining continued to be conducted with impunity by small-scale mining operator Judito Pintado in Sitio Sumogbong in Alegria and East Coast Mineral Resources in Barangay Mati which continued to operate despite an order to cease from the government.

The same areas are still being subjected to illegal mining involving Pintado and Chinese criminals who were caught in the act of illegal mining during separate raids by authorities this month.

Pintado is facing  cases of illegal mining and illegal logging in a local court filed by the San Francisco Water District (SFWD).

Mt. Magdiwata, a 1,658-hectare watershed with a height of 633 meters above sea level, was declared a permanent watershed by Presidential Proclamation No. 282 on Oct. 23, 1993.

It was the SFWD that exposed the resurgence of illegal logging and mining after its forest guards had reported seeing natural-grown falcatta trees felled inside the mountain and near  Sumogbong River.

Illegal mining also started to spread like a plague with 50 operations detected inside the watershed.

Prompted by mounting pressure for a call to action, a massive crackdown led by the local environment office and the police arrested nine illegal loggers caught in the act of cutting down trees and six Chinese miners involved in an illegal gold-mining operation using backhoes that destroyed the riverbanks of remote Mati village.

But the sincerity of authorities to enforce laws to protect the watershed is still under a cloud of doubt.

“How far can they go? Can they really catch the big fish?” asked a parishioner after listening to a warning from Fr. Artemio Jusayan at the end of Mass.

Jusayan has called on the faithful to be more vigilant in protecting the watershed. The priest expressed alarm when village officials in Alegria had passed a resolution allowing mining operations by Philsaga Mining Corp., two weeks before illegal loggers were arrested in Sitio Sumogbong.

“The people of this town must know. They should be consulted,” said Jusayan, adding that a disaster similar to the landslide that hit New Bataan in Compostela Valley during the onslaught of Typhoon “Pablo” is not a remote possibility.

A week after the priest’s concern was relayed to churchgoers, the village chair of Alegria, Solomon Rufila, issued a certification that logs believed to have been from illegally cut trees belonged to Pintado.

“We were caught by surprise,” said SFWD general manager Elmer Luzon.

The SFWD, with the help of police, soldiers and personnel from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, was transporting the seized logs for custody when it learned about the decision of Rufila to hold the logs in favor of Pintado.

The incident has drawn suspicion on the village official’s sincerity to be part of the continuing campaign to protect the mountain from poaching.

Rufila also agreed to the mining operations in exchange for a road.

The village council of Alegria is a member of Mt. Magdiwata Multi-Sectoral Task Force, which was organized by Mayor Jenny de Asis in 2010 in the wake of calls to protect the watershed.

A big part of Alegria’s area is covered by Philsaga’s 6,000-ha mineral production sharing agreement approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

This came about when, early this year, the SFWD board of directors had passed a resolution strongly opposing mining operations and calling for the immediate cancellation of exploration and mining permits.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

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: environment , Mining , Mt. Magdiwata , Mt. Magdiwata Multi-Sectoral Task Force , protest , watershed

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. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  2. Gigi Reyes’ only option: tell all
  3. Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  4. Santiago sees Palace hand in Gigi’s return
  5. Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst
  6. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  7. Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  8. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  9. Healing priest invites political leaders to join ‘prayer for nation’
  10. ‘Malang’ next crocodile attraction after ‘Lolong’
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  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. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • LPA enters PH, to bring rains and thunderstorms
  • Sing-along saint: Showbiz world gets papal inspiration
  • Two-thirds of underwater search done, no sign of MH370
  • S. Korea prosecutors turn to mobile app for ferry probe
  • 31 dead in Holy Week incidents—NDRRMC
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Business

  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Marketplace