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Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion -

“A coun­try, even with a strong army, is not se­cured at all with­out eco­log­i­cal se­cu­rity.” This state­ment was pro­nounced by no less than the for­mer Sec­re­tary of Na­tional De­fense, Sec. Orlando Mer­cado in the late ’90s to sig­nify his full sup­port when we were tak­ing direct ac­tions through hu­man bar­ri­cade against il­le­gal log­ging as some 50 ten-wheeler log­ging trucks were bring­ing down il­le­gally-cut logs ev­ery night dur­ing those years when six log­ging com­pa­nies were plun­der­ing our dipte­ro­carp for­est.

Yes, the in­gre­di­ents of eco­log­i­cal dis­as­ter were al­ready ex­ist­ing mi­nus the rains af­ter five decades of plun­der that earned the log­gers tremen­dous rak­ings, boast­ing to one and all that no one can stop them, not even an of­fice that has been man­dated to en­force en­vi­ron­men­tal laws, brag­ging that 90% in that of­fice were un­der their pay­roll. Well, it was in­deed Res Ipsa Lo­quitor (the thing speaks for it­self) be­cause the dipte­ro­carp for­est then that the log­gers were plun­der­ing should have not been the sub­ject of log­ging for rea­son that these were pro­tected ar­eas, ly­ing more than one thou­sand me­ters above sea level and in slopes whose gra­di­ents were more than 50% where log­ging was pro­hib­ited. Too, there were laws that dis­al­lowed the cut­ting of hard wood i.e., Al­macega, Red Lauan, Narra, Ma­hogany, but all of these were cut with­out mercy.

How pow­er­ful were the log­gers then! Isn’t it that in this coun­try no one is above the law, that all must bow down to the majesty of the law be­cause we fol­low the rule of law and not of men? That state­ment was just rhetor­i­cal as far as the mighty log­gers were con­cerned then. They could not mod­er­ate their greed. Some have even be­come con­gress­men, may­ors or gover­nors us­ing their mas­sive rak­ings to buy votes. Moneyed as they were then, they were able to form a strong ca­bal of vested in­ter­est. No one was pros­e­cuted. No one was pe­nal­ized. It was so easy for the il­le­gal log­gers then to file cases against us ev­ery time we took direct ac­tions to stop them.

Ten years of hu­man bar­ri­cades against il­le­gal log­ging from 1991 to 2000 saw us be­ing ha­rassed, ar­rested and even ac­cused of 200 mil­lion dam­age suit by Vic­mar Cor­po­ra­tion. When we seized 5 log­ging trucks car­ry­ing il­le­gally cut logs owned by a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer named 2nd Lieu­tenant Modesto Eleazar, we were hunted by his goons. An M2K2 hand grenade had been thrown to us bar­ri­caders at dawn but mirac­u­lously did not ex­plode. Af­ter deep prayers, we thanked God for the pro­tec­tion as we firmly be­lieve that if God is with us, who can be against us?

What was so amaz­ing was the act of a 65-year old col­league, a Fish­er­man leader from Agu­san, Ca­gayan de Oro, Mr. An­to­nio Sal­cedo, who was then dy­ing of bone can­cer and 5 days later, he would die. In his hos­pi­tal bed, he asked the doc­tor to re­lease him so that he could join us. When asked why, he whis­pered to the doc­tor: “Doc­tor, I know am dy­ing and soon I will die. What if God will ask me, what have I done to pro­tect His creation. Pro­tect­ing God’s van­ish­ing creation is the high­est form of wor­ship.”

That state­ment that “pro­tect­ing God’s van­ish­ing creation is the high­est form of wor­ship,” be­came our bat­tle cry, with­out fear in fac­ing the armed goons of the log­gers, with our firm be­lief that we will end up in God’s lov­ing em­brace when we are killed pro­tect­ing the mega-di­ver­sity which the log­gers were killing with­out let-up, the great­est mas­sacre of all time.

On January 10, 2018, some 5,000 peo­ple will be gath­er­ing at Atrium, LimKetKai to hold the Peo­ple’s En­vi­ron­ment Sum­mit. The mes­sage of Typhoon Vinta last Dec. 22, 2017 is a strong warning: heal the blighted land back to life or we will all per­ish. It was a re­minder of what hap­pened on Dec. 17. 2011 when Typhoon Sen­dong killed some 3,000 peo­ple and ren­der­ing 11,000 fam­i­lies home­less.

The in­gre­di­ents of dis­as­ter are now present, just wait­ing for the rains that will cause so much havoc to life and prop­er­ties in 200-hectare wa­ter basin Ca­gayan de Oro. Ev­ery one-inch of rain­fall in the 200 thou­sand hectares Kalatun­gan Range will be trans­lated to one me­ter high flood. God for­bids! Ten inches of rains means 10 me­ters high of flood­ings in the city.

Let no­tice be served to one and all that the peo­ple of Ca­gayan de Oro have awak­ened: they will not al­low any­more that a life be sac­ri­ficed be­cause One Sen­dong is Enough. JOIN US.

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