Monday, February 20, 2006

Southern Leyte, Zamboanga landslides were all preventable tragedies

* From the Office of Anakpawis Representative Crispin B. Beltran

Reference: Rep. Crispin Beltran

Lisa C. Ito, Public Information Officer (+63)927.796.7006

Tel. # (+632) 931-6615 Email:


February 20, 2006

*Southern Leyte**, Zamboanga landslides were all preventable tragedies, Rep.
Beltran says *

*Solon hits former DENR Sec. Defensor, says masses suffer most from gov't
tolerance of logging, mining*

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today expressed "deepest sympathy with the
victims on this tragedy of gigantic proportions", saying that "the deadly
landslides that ravaged St. Bernard in Southern Leyte and Depore in
Zamboanga del Sur were all preventable tragedies that occurred due to the
Arroyo administration's unrestricted tolerance of logging and mining
operations and its neglect of effective disaster-prevention systems".

"The toiling masses are the first to suffer and the most badly hit whenever
natural disasters, related directly or indirectly to destructive logging and
mining operations, strike. This is doubly tragic because it is usually the
government, and not the toiling masses, are not the ones who are promoting
and tolerating such operations in the first place. In fact, they are the
ones who are at the forefront of condemning and rejecting such operations,"
Beltran observed.

Beltran expressed alarm at the reports from environmental groups that the
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) had already come up with a landslide
susceptibility map as early as 2004 but nothing was done to relay the
information to local government unit (LGUs).

"What were officials such as the former DENR Secretary Michael Defensor
doing all the while? Was he too busy concocting recipes for Pres. Arroyo's
political preservation and approving hundreds of environmental compliance
certificates or ECCs to foreign mining and logging corporations?" he asked.

"Why was there a severe lack of massive reforestration program and disaster
response system given the MGB data? Why was a only measly 0.1 percent of
national budget allotted to calamity funds when all the signs of impending
tragedies were in place?" he asked.

Beltran said that "past and present administrations have done virtually
nothing to reverse the environmental effects of rampant logging in the
forests and mountainous areas of Southern Leyte since the 1970s, which have
made the province vulnerable to landslides such as the Ormoc tragedy of
1991. Even Mindanao and Luzon has not been spared from tragedies directly
related to logging, such as the massive landslides and flash floods in
Aurora and Quezon that was blamed on logging in the Sierra Madre mountain
range. We all know that unabated logging and mining ," he said.

"Given these historical precedents, the St. Bernard landslide is a tragedy
that we can not solely attribute to the random wrath of Mother Nature alone,
nor on the increased volume of rainfall. The government's consistent lack of
decisive disaster-preparedness systems and failure to implement log and
mining bans and regulations also have to be taken into account," Beltran

Beltran added that the Zamboanga landslide was also "tragic but not
surprising, since the Arroyo administration has really not been decisive in
curbing environmental destruction in Mindanao". "In fact, if we recall,
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself personally announced the lifting
of the total log ban in Mindanao in March 2005, authorizing Sec. Defensor to
allow legal logging in several regions," he said.

He said that Anakpawis' regional chapters are currently soliciting goods to
contribute to the relief operations.###


Post a Comment

<< Home