Sec. Gina Lopez and the mining industry

 

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez

We all know that President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Ms. Gina Lopez as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the strength of her intensely passionate and unwavering advocacy for green or eco-friendly environment.

No one can ever question her resolve in protecting the environment and in so doing making it clean and friendly to the people. We have seen her zeal and devotion when she served as chairperson of Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and her involvement in Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch) which was launched as a response to the worsening state of the environment, especially in Metro Manila.

While many appreciate the idealism of Lopez for the environment, the same morals or philosophy, if you may, when applied to the mining companies in the country should have been tempered with greater understanding and rationality.

I am saying this because Lopez is now at the receiving end of the wrath expressed by some mining officials whose company was targeted for closure and/or suspension of operation for the reason that it has been causing havoc to the environment.

That Lopez has been the subject of displeasure and indignation by the mining companies, which is even affecting her confirmation as DENR secretary, is only fair and par for the course because its mining operation should have been vetted first on the context on whether or not they are International Standards Organization (ISO) compliant.

This should have been the due process extended to the mining companies instead of shutting them down unceremoniously.

There is no doubt Lopez knows about the ISO certification because she herself stated the following upon assuming the position from former DENR Secretary Ramon Paje: “ISO 14001 is one way of saying responsible mining.”

The ISO 14001 standard is the most important within the ISO 14000 series. ISO 14001 specifies the requirements of an environmental management system (EMS) for small to large organizations. An EMS is a systemic approach to handling environmental issues within an organization.

Lopez further added that the assessment will determine if mining operations are “… good to the people or are they killing the rivers, streams? Are they creating suffering to our farmers and fishermen? We have to evaluate it, but my stand on the common good is non-negotiable.”

The “non-negotiable” stand of Lopez can be likened to the shit hitting the fan!

This hardline policy/posturing of Lopez just won’t work especially if the mining industries earn billions of pesos for the country, creates job for the people in the community and contribute to the infrastructure needs of the community.

Personal or subjective opinion should never play a rule in this kind of controversial problems especially if it has to do with the economy, jobs, lives of employed workers, and yes, the environment. The benefits gained should not be held hostage just because the whim and caprice of a popular DENR Secretary is not accommodated.

To compromise is the way to go so it will not create a negative impact on all factors considered for a win-win situation could only be attained if a review of the ISO standards is done regularly by DENR so that anomalies can be corrected to help minimize the potential present and long term damage to the environment from mining activities.

 

Benham Rise issue – Part III

 

I have no choice but to designate this article as Part III since I have already written about Benham Rise twice some years back which you can read at this links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/philippines-pin-hopes-on-benham-rise/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/thank-god-for-benham-rise-part-ii/

Never had I anticipated writing about it again until I heard the recent alarming and disturbing news that a Chinese survey ship was spotted at the Benham Rise location.

“We are concerned about the presence of a Chinese ship in Benham Rise, which has been recognized by the United Nations as part of the Philippines,” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a statement on Friday, March 10.

“The Department of National Defense has already notified the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding this matter as we continue to assert our sovereignty over our territory,” he added.

Of course we should, forcefully and explicitly!

The Benham Rise area definitely does not have any stupid Chinese historical claim of any sort like they had been asserting they have at the West Philippine Sea just because it is part of the larger body of water bearing the name South China Sea (SCS).

On the pretext that China was “looking for a place to put submarine”, as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said was the info he got, the most likely reason would be that they have chosen the area for their oceanographic research because they just want to confirm if indeed the unimaginable wealth and extent in mineral resources and gas deposits found underneath Benham Rise truly exist.

I cannot blame President Rodrigo Duterte for pussyfooting with the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea issue, where even the country’s territorial integrity has been breached with China’s nine- dash line claim.

If the most powerful country and the acclaimed top ‘policeman’ in the world- the US, and the UN, through its agency the UNCLOS, were not able to stop China from expanding and militarizing the SCS, who are we to prevent China’s hegemony of the contested areas?

But what I am just saying here is that we had been hearing Duterte declaring time and again that he will die defending the country and the Filipino people from the enemies that will try to destroy them.

Well this is it!

There has not been and there will never be a greater challenge such as this one in Duterte’s presidency that needs more of his grit, determination and resolve to stand up for his country and people.

Duterte could not afford anymore to be complacent the way he has been pleased and gratified at the financial and technical help China has promised to give for many infrastructure projects for the country.

China may have bamboozled us in the SCS and there was nothing that we can do. In that part of the globe what is China’s is China’s and what is ours is still China’s

Duterte and those that will follow him should be reminded that at Benham Rise what legally belongs to the Philippines is for the Filipinos and for the generations of Filipinos to come and not to China or any other exploitative country that intends to not only hold us by the balls, but stick it to us as well.

 

Mitigating flooding during heavy rainfall

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

Dredging silted rivers may not be the absolute solution for flooding communities across the country every time it rains for days during weather disturbances.

But certainly clearing up and digging up the sediments composed of fine clay and sand, and in some cases stones, rocks, boulders, and other debris in the river, which are deposited by cascading waters from the mountains, will help mitigate the impact of possible overflowing of the river causing flooding and destruction of properties and lives.

We have seen these disastrous events happening for years all over the country, and getting worse, during rainy and typhoon seasons and people have gotten used to it, even accepting it as normal occurrences.

But, could displacement and destruction of lives and properties brought about by a long and seemingly incessant downpour continue to be that – normal occurrences?

We can only be thankful that during these trying times we have concerned government officials in the persons of Agricultural Secretary Manny Piñol and President Rodrigo Duterte who have shown determination and resolve to do something, at least, to one main contributory factor to flooding and that is the dredging of the major rivers across the country.

Upon the recommendation of Piñol, the president has reportedly approved the dredging of the following major rivers:

  • Agusan river, considered the third longest river in the country, that drains into the Butuan Bay at its mouth in Butuan City.
  • Rio Grande deMindanao, also known as the Mindanao river and considered the largest river system in the country, begins near Butuan City and empties into the Moro gulf through Cotabato City.
  • Pampanga river traverses the provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija until it drains into Manila Bay.
  • Cagayan river, also known as Rio Grande de Cagayan, is the longest and 2nd largest river in the country, flows through the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela and Cagayan until it reaches its mouth at the Babuyan Channel.

Indeed, this is a very welcomed development.

 

Duterte orders total log ban

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

It is very encouraging and reassuring to know that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a Tri-Partite Convergence Committee that will formulate guidelines and other details of total log ban implementation in the country.

Knowing who Duterte is and his earnest concern for the country and the Filipino people it should be relieving to all that the government’s log ban policy will be forcefully and finally implemented for good.

I am saying this because it is not that the policy of a total log ban has not been mulled over and studied in the past by past administrations. The long and short of it is because past presidents and past Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials just did not have the backbone to implement it vigorously.

Proofs to this are the pieces I wrote in 2012 and 2013 which can be read at these links:  https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/illegal-loggers/ and https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/logging-ban/.

Reportedly, the committee will be composed of the DENR, Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

What adds to the favorable action of Duterte is the presence of two supportive and dependable Cabinet stalwarts, namely, DA Secretary Manny Piñol and DENR Secretary Gina Lopez.

In fact what prompted Duterte to issue the directive for the formation of the committee is the apprehension raised by Piñol, during the Climate Change Commission (CCC) En Banc and Advisory Board Meeting in Malacañang, about the massive floods in various river basins in Mindanao due to denuded mountains.

In the same venue Lopez told Duterte that despite the total log ban, several companies were given licenses to cut down trees under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) and the Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) contracts.

With Duterte’s order to stop all logging operations with no exemptions we can expect the greening of the mountains again and the mitigation of landslides and flash floods.

But this will take time for so much destruction has been done to the nation’s water sheds. In the meantime the agencies tasked to implement the order should continually be in the look- out for the unscrupulous loggers.

Cruelty of sun bears at the Bandung zoo

 

sunbears_230117_stI do not know if you have read about or seen already the woeful condition and the pathetic sight of the sun bears found inside the Bandung zoo in Indonesia’s West Java province.

Am sure there are more miserable looking animals inside but the sun bear is singled out here in this video and link of an article that I am sharing perhaps because of its rarity.

The sun bear, which is considered the smallest of the bears, can only be found in tropical forest habitats of Southeast Asia, and has been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of its depleted suitable habitat caused by deforestation.

While it is bad that they are kept in the zoo for public display, it is even worse for their kind because they cannot do what they are suppose to do if they were in the wild, what with their long tongue 20–25 cm (7.9–9.8 in) to extract insects and honey and with their large paws and large sickle-shaped claws, which is believe to be an adaptation for climbing trees.

This video that I am sharing, which was taken by Indonesia-based Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group, only shows how inadequate the funding perhaps to make the animals healthy and the facility to remain sustainable.

But what is even worse perhaps is the lack of trained personnel to run the zoo.

What a pitiable sight indeed.

For more on the subject you can also visit this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/skeletal-sun-bears-indonesia-zoo_us_58819d50e4b0e3a735684c7f.

Unbelievable duo!

I saw this article by Josh Starling at this site: http://www.inspiremore.com/belgian-shepherd-adopts-tiny-rescue-owl/, and I could not wait to share it with you because I am sure you, too, will be amazed at how the bond of friendship and trust developed between these two unlikely fauna creatures, thus, the caption, ‘Unbelievable duo!’

Gentle Giant Adopts Tiny Rescue Owl, His Protective Love Will Make Your Day.

Josh Starling

Aug 19, 2016

Tanja Brandt is a German photographer who has dedicated her career to photographing animals and wildlife. In one of her most recent projects, Brandt shot photographs of a highly, unlikely pair of friends. Ingo, the Belgian shepherd; and Poldi -short for Napoleon- the one-year-old owlet who have formed the most incredible bond.

Brandt describes the relationship between Ingo and Poldi as somewhat of a ‘protector-protected’ relationship. Ingo is a guardian for Poldi, whom Brandt says “doesn’t know how to live free.”Poldi didn’t hatch until two days after his six brothers and sisters.

Poldi didn’t hatch until two days after his six brothers and sisters.

1-dog

2-dog

He has always been very vulnerable due to his size.

3-dog

4-dog

Ingo, on the other hand, comes from a family of strong and oftentimes ruthless police dogs.

5-dog

6-dog

Ingo is very protective over the year-old owlet.

7-dog

8-dog

Their bond is as strong off-camera as it appears in Tanja’s photographs.

9-dog

10-dog

“They respect each other and they can read each other.”

11-dog

12-dog

Even though Ingo is much bigger and stronger, it’s clear he would never hurt his friend.

13-dog

x-dog

Their friendship is definitely mutual.

14-dog

15-dog

They love and care for one another.

16-dog

17-dog

More fun at Runway 32

 

You might be wondering what the heck is Runway 32 and where exactly is it found?

Well, Runway 32 is simply what it is, a 5334 ft long airstrip located in Barangay Dahican in Mati, the capital city of the province of Davao Oriental in the Philippines. It is the only airport in Davao Oriental.

Interestingly, during the heydays of the Marcos regime, this was famously called the Imelda R. Marcos Airport, perhaps due to the impulsive whim and scandalous vagary of the former iron lady who had things done, whether it will serve its purpose or not for as long as the project is named after her.

The airstrip with its lone, now worn out terminal building fronting a tarmac for plane parking, loading, unloading, boarding and deplaning was never really fully utilized for commercial purposes as domestic flights are available to and from Davao City.

Needless to say Imelda’s project never took off in Mati.

However, what is successfully taking off at the moment and helping make Mati City soar high up in the air again, as far as tourism is concern, is the ingenious idea of some Davao folks who founded the Mindanao Saga Flying Club (MSFC) for recreational purposes while suitably utilizing Runway 32 for what it was constructed for and for riders to enjoy the scenic beauty of the city and its surroundings like no one has seen before in exhilarating and breathtaking open cockpit ultra light planes and the like, especially when talking about the Sleeping Dinosaur Island, resort places and the famous Dahikan Beach with its 17-kilometer pure, fine white sand shore.

A must see in Mati is also the city’s Subangan Museum, where it showcases a great mixture of rich cultural and natural heritage thru its displays. It also houses the fossil of a 50-foot long sperm whale that was found by fishermen in 2010.

But the reason really why I am writing about this piece is because I simply want to share with you the experience and fun me we all had at MSFC. I was with my wife, Paz, our daughter Angie, with her husband Rodin and daughters Amaya and Mayumi. Yumi, who is just 6 years old, had the guts to fly with her Tito King, while older sister Amaya was just contented taxiing on the airstrip.

Iñaki (T. King) incidentally is the one managing MSFC. Next year, he says, MSFC will not only be a recreational club but will be a licensed flying school at the same time for small aircrafts.

(For more of MSFC you can go to this link: https://www.facebook.com/MindanaoSagaFlyingClub/photos/)

Enjoy the photos.

mati

msfc-logo

18

17

28

41

34

38

21

p_20161030_080405

p_20161030_080538

p_20161030_080452

36

16

9

p_20161029_100137

p_20161029_100229