Category: environment

Marcos cronies and the golden oriole of Isabela

…. Under Marcos, logging licenses and timber concessions were given out as gifts and favors to select family members, close friends, politicians, and supporters. Shared out like a great cake, the forests of northern Luzon were sliced up in unequal portions and distributed to the privileged few. Marcos’ mother, an uncle, a brother, a sister and her husband, were concessionaires to hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora, Quirino and Quezon. They installed themselves as board members and shareholders of newly formed lucrative logging companies and timber processing plants….

Rachel AG Reyes

Ayala Land: Health hazard

Katrina S.S.

One of the things that I appreciate about President Duterte is his consistent stand against oligarchs’ abusive ways (no matter how selective), and his notion of community justice that happens not just in terms of peace and order ala war on drugs (highly arguable strategy notwithstanding), but also in terms of bringing back peace and quiet to our communities. During the campaign, I heard him talk about videoke bans in public places, and I was hopeful that things might change for us who suffer through the incessant construction noise of big urban land developers.

Read on…

The missing truth in the Philippines’ climate change plans

Inday Espina-Varona

Three mountains once loomed on the other side of a cove on the border of Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte provinces in the southern Philippines. Now, only one remains.

“I am jarred by how fast the mountains disappear,” said Velvet, a researcher for anti-mining alliance Caraga Watch who travels around the southern Mindanao region several times a year.

“One year there, the next year, gone. They ship earth to be processed in other countries,” she said.

Read on…

consunji, semirara, torre de manila, atbp.

the synchronicity is striking.

while having to deal with the shameless atrocity that is DMCI’s torre de manila, and having to listen to DMCI’s lawyer who dares declare that jose rizal is no demigod — “his statue does not possess a super constitutional power that acts like a laser sword that any building exceeds the line of sight should be torned” (sic sic sic) — yes, on top of hearing such disdainful capitalist  rhetoric while watching the wheels of supreme court justice grind exceedingly painfully slow (in contrast to  enrile’s bail), we were hit with news of yet another mining “incident” in semirara island, province of antique, that saw nine miners buried alive (the first, in 2013, killed five) in a landslide.

DMCI, which dared build that monstrous torre, and semirara mining corporation, the only large-scale coal-mining operation in the country, are both subsidiaries of DMCI Holdings Inc., a conglomerate (also into roads, power, water, real estate, concrete atbp.) largely owned and run by the david m. consunji family whose patriarch is listed as the 6th richest filipino (worth $3.2 B) by forbes magazine 2014.

quite the oligarch, di ba, who by the way, was part of the marcos cabinet 1970-75 as secretary of public works.  he got exclusive rights to semirara also in marcos times (early 1980s) that should have expired in 2012 but was extended to 2027 by the energy department in the time of arroyo (2008).

of course, less than a month after the “incident,” the DENR lifted its suspension order on semirara ops;  another suspension order from the department of energy has yet to be lifted, but we know that’s coming next, ‘no? because, really, our power plants need the coal to generate the electricity we can’t live without.

In its motion to lift cease and desist order and suspension order, Semirara said it did not violate any provision of its ECC and the accident that occurred in the mine site did not have any adverse impact on the environment.

It also said the collapse of the wall was a “fortuitous event” beyond its control, and that erosion control measures have been put in place.

FORTUITOUS?!?  nine miners died and that was fortuitous?  according to what value system?  why were those erosion control measures not put in place BEFORE that killer landslide of july 17?  in fact, it would seem that it was sheer irresponsibility on the part of semirara that killed those miners.  antique governor rhodora cadiao says the panian pit is already over-mined.

“‘Yung hinuhukay nila [sa Panian Pit], nasa mouth lang ng pit… ‘Yun ang (lupang) nag-crash sa workers,” she said. “It’s already 1/2 kilometer below sea level, mahina na talaga.”

She added that workers are afraid to go back to the area as it was already the second accident to happen on the island.

NO ADVERSE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT?!?  more like, no adverse impact on the coal.  only the coal matters.  never mind that of all fossil fuels, coal’s extraction, and use,  contributes the most to environmental degradation, whose long-term effects we are feeling now as Climate Change.  and never mind that semirara’s coal mining operations bring no real significant benefit to community or nation except as the end-product electricity that we still have to pay for anyway.  never mind all that because, you know, coal is so much cheaper to “produce” than solar power.

what is not factored in is the fact that the mining company, in this case, semirara, did not truly produce, i.e., develop or create, the coal – Nature did that, over hundreds of millions of years, from dead plant matter subjected to geological forces of heat and pressure.  as such, it is part of the natural wealth, and meant for the benefit, of the filipino people across generations, not just a few privileged families and their cohorts in government across generations.

it’s pretty much the way we lost our millions of hectares of hardwood forests – but that’s another story of the rent-seeking / exploitation-by-the-powerful-few genre.  read maximo “junie” kalaw’s essays Forests Gone and Forests Left, excerpts from Exploring Soul & Society: Papers on Sustainable Development (Anvil 1997).

which is all pasakalye to why i agree with carlos celdran about the demolition of torre de manila:

“DMCI ito. They are a mining company. If they can make Semirara Island disappear, they can make that building disappear. DMCI is very good in demolishing things. They are into mining… To tear down is not a technological impossibility. Kayang kaya nila iyon,” he claimed in an interview with GMA News TV’s “News To Go” on Wednesday.

DMCI Holdings Inc., the parent of DMCI homes, also holds the exclusive rights to explore, mine and develop the coal resources in the 5,500-hectare  Semirara Island in Caluya, Antique. Other minerals on the island are limestone and silica.

Celdran issued his statement after the Supreme Court imposed a temporary restraining order suspending the construction of Torre de Manila.

… “The thing I like about this TRO is that it showed the Filipino people that oligarchs or large corporations like this can be questioned, can be stopped, and can be taken to task for things that they do and abuses that they do,” he added

more recently, there was this from QC rep winston castello who heads the metro manila development house committee:

“The public relations nightmare of the DMCI will continue if they would not totally remove it. I advise them to voluntarily dismantle it. After all, it would be a big contribution to preserve our cultural heritage and national patrimony,” Castelo said.

Castelo said once the Supreme Court issues an injunction to permanently halt the construction, DMCI should refund the property buyers who bought condominium units, lest it risks being blacklisted from doing business with government.

The construction arm of DMCI is also part of various big ticket public-private partnership projects with government, such as the P15.86 billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway, two sections of the P26.656 billion Metro Manila Skyway project, the P2.27 billion LRT-2 East extension project, among others.

indeed, the consunji conglomerate can afford this one setback after being so consistently blessed by government, administration after administration, over the last 30 plus years.  surely DMCI knew about zoning regulations and knew from the start that it was taking a risk in pushing on with the torre de manila project.  surely they knew there was a reason why a torre kind of building had never been attempted, or, maybe, even considered, in that particular site but they decided to take the risk anyway, thinking maybe that they could bully their way up, because wow the projected returns on condo units with a rare untrammeled view of the historic rizal park and manila  bay, and environs near and far — sunset na, citylights pa — must have been way over-the-top incredible.

besides, city hall made it so easy, and when heritage activists raised a howl, no less than the presidential action center and the NHCP intervened, because, you know, heritage can co-exist with progress, or so the media blitz across major broadsheets and news websites goes, complete with a photo of the rizal monument dwarfed by a backdrop of skyscrapers.  argh.

it’s too much.  kulang pa yung pagpapayaman nila by making private capital of our natural wealth?  pati talaga ang rizal monument sa bagumbayan, na kaisa-isa nating national monument, ay pagsasamantalahan at pagkakakitaan,  e ano kung nakakasira ng view natin of rizal  — bongga naman ang view nila from the torre?  business first before anything?

sobra na.  that torre is a dirty finger raised in contempt at nation and everything sacred that the rizal monument stands for.  take it down, guys!

[next: ambeth ocampo & the supremes]