DAVAO CITY—Environmental rights network Panalipdan Davao Oriental Chapter has demanded that commercial logging in Davao Oriental be permanently stopped and that Philippine Youbang Mining Corporation (PhilYoubang), a Chinese Mining Firm, be penalized for its brazen logging operations in Brgy Macambol in Mati.
In a fact finding mission in Sitio Sopsopon, Brgy Macambol in Mati town last June 9, Panalipdan found out that PYMC, which has a mining permit to mine 1,000 hectares in Mati has also been doing extensive logging operations in the area.
“PhilYoubang’s logging operations are destructive to the environment. Mostly, they cut Magkuno or iron wood, Banile and other premium species like Tangile. They cut century-old trees and completely uproot the whole tree including the stumps. From what was seen in their logdeck, more than 1000 cubic meters already have been cut and harvested by this company,” said Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB, spokesperson of Panalipdan-Davao Oriental.
The fact finding mission team also observed that Philyoubang’s operations has damaged second growth trees and other species in Sitio Sopsopon, Brgy Macambol, which is located between two protected areas – Pujada Bay Protected Seascape and Mt. Hamiguitan Range, a government – declared wildlife sanctuaries based on Republic Act No. 9303 or the Mt. Hamiguitan Range and Wildlife Sanctuary Act.
Panalipdan hence fears that Philyoubangs logging and, consequently, mining operations will cause severe damage to these sanctuaries and their resident species.
For instance, Mt. Hamiguitan hosts around 400 hectares of ‘pygmy forests’, exotic plants and wild animals. Rattan, timber and non-timber products, which are the sources of community livelihood are also abundant here.
PhilYoubang claims to hold a Private Land Timber Permit which was awarded to it by the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). However, Panalipdan – Southern Mindanao insists that this permit should never have been given at all due to the critical location of Brgy Macambol.
Francis Morales of Panalipdan – Southern Mindanao also lashed at the DENR for allowing and giving the company permit to mine the area.
“Along with the permit to mine the area, mining companies are also given timber rights. It’s part of the whole destructive cycle of large scale mining. They have to shave off the mountains to be mined so this doubles their earnings,” said Morales.
“With this, the local communities are at the losing end all the time. They suffer from the loss of a valuable forest cover, and the extinction of animal species in their area while these plunderers earn from our timber and from the mineral resources,” Morales added.
Morales said the DENR regional office is also accountable for the destruction caused by PhilYoubang.
“The DENR has long known that there is massive illegal and commercial logging operations in Davao Oriental but it has no guts to stand up against the politicians, military and police coddling these companies or syndicates,” Morales said.
Amidst the continued exposés revealing wanton illegal commercial logging activities in the province since the early nineties, doubts have always hounded the provincial and national government.
Still, the people and the church’s vigilance against the massive logging in the gulf and east coast are unyielding.
The question and the challenge being hurled by Panalipdan and other environmental groups to the incoming President Noynoy Aquino is if there will ever be a sincere step towards protecting our resources and environment under his watch.
“We challenge President Noynoy. He said he will eradicate corruption, and some of the most lucrative businesses in the country are plunderous activities like mining and logging. We demand that this be resolved as soon as possible lest we regret everything when we become the next to suffer from mudslides and landslides that killed thousands in Quezon or Ormoc,” said Morales.
Panalipdan Southern Mindanao Region
Mobile number: 0939-481-8848
Sr. Stela Matutina, OSB
Spokesperson, Panalipdan- Dav Or
Mobile number: 0920-497-2204