Stop land-use conversion, destructive mining and infra projects to address flooding

“We agree that tree planting is good. It is basic that all LGUs and CSOs should be doing it. However, Marcos Jr. should realize that in order to rectify the decades-long forest denudation and environmental destruction, his administration must rein in and decisively stop large-scale mining operations, illegal logging, quarrying, and other destructive projects,” This was the reaction of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas to President Marcos Jr.’s oblivious astonishment over the denuded forests of BARMM during his aerial inspection yesterday.

“In case Marcos Jr. didn’t know, his father, Marcos Sr. was responsible for the massive deforestation of some 8 million hectares of forest lands from the 1970s to 1980s. At least two million hectares of which have been severely damaged beyond restoration. Historical facts show that the disappearance of forest covers accelerated during Marcos Sr.’s administration as he used logging licenses as leverage for his cronies. Back then, at least 300,000 of forest land per year were lost to Marcos cronies operating logging empires across the country,” according to KMP chairperson emeritus Rafael Mariano.

“Marcos cannot simply say we must address climate change and flood control while freely allowing foreign and local big businesses to plunder our land and natural resources,” Mariano said. “Matagal nang may climate change. Umabot na nga tayo sa climate crisis. Kaya ngayon, climate justice na ang panawagan. Dapat managot ang mga maysala sa pagkawasak ng kalikasan.

“Preservation of forests should start with an effective moratorium on land-use conversion projects, and the rescinding of Duterte’s EO 130 that lifted the ban on new mining agreements,” the KMP leader said.

The DENR is said to be fast-tracking the approval process of mining projects in CARAGA and Zamboanga Peninsula involving Earth Tools and Development Corp., Holcim Resources and Development Corp., CEKAS Development Corp., and the TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. The agency also recently approved least 35 mining explorations permits.

Use calamity funds for substantial relief and rehab efforts

The group also called for significant relief and rehabilitation efforts for flood victims. Farmers from hard-hit provinces of Quezon, Panay, Negros Occidental, and Cagayan Valley are lamenting their loss of livelihood as the flooding damaged their rice, corn, and other crops. Fisherfolks from Aklan and Cavite are also affected as their fishing gear was either damaged or destroyed.

KMP also called on the national and local governments to be thoroughly transparent on the utilization of calamity funds and quick response funds. Based on annual COA reports, the annual utilization rate of available calamity funds is below 60 percent. The farmers’ group said it will ask Congress to exercise its oversight function to probe if the calamity funds are conscientiously disbursed. ###

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