Monday, July 26, 2010

He campaigned against illegal logging, and then he was gone

By Jeffrey M. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:34:00 06/26/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Jesiderio Camangyan wailed over the greatest lie ever told about Davao Oriental: That while a million trees have been planted by the provincial government, a flagship program of Gov. Corazon Malanyaon, a million trees are also being felled and hauled illegally from the forests in the province’s east coast, including Cateel, the governor’s hometown.

A week before he was killed, Camangyan vowed that he would speak against this ridiculous situation, even challenging Malanyaon and other local leaders to put their acts together and put an end to it.

He expelled his challenge minus the flare of a typical commentator or the aggressively engaging voice of an environmental advocate with an unbendable cause. He was not known for being both.

In his radio program, he said: “This is my contribution to the government’s efforts to preserve the environment.”

And for days he spoke of how local government officials allow the forests of Davao Oriental to be stripped of trees and how they could do something to stop the illegal practice.

Apparently some people snapped out and got him silenced.

What happened on the night of June 14 in Barangay Old Makopa in Manay town, while the entire village was in the middle of revelry, had all the ingredients of a perfectly conspired murder, but flawed in execution.

Camangyan walked to his death.


Camangyan’s wife, Ruth, said Barangay Chair Romeo Antoling promised her husband a “bonus”—a shotgun.

“I was trying very hard to convince him to forego the invitation but he was insistent. He did not want to break his promise to his friend. Antoling was his friend. He trusted him,” Ruth said.

But his trusted friend did not even help him when he needed help the most.

From the accounts of witnesses, including Ruth, Camangyan was intentionally left to die. Antoling, Ruth said, was nowhere to be found while her husband was fighting for his life.

“I was screaming for help. No one came. I dragged my husband’s body—all soaked in blood—from the stage out to the covered court and into the road, hoping that a vehicle would be available for him to be brought to the hospital. He was still breathing then and I was begging everyone for help but no help came,” Ruth said.

Painful death

Distraught and helpless, Ruth saw how her husband died a painful death.

Three days after the killing of Camangyan, Antoling executed an affidavit, saying he was supporting whatever investigation that may be made. The affidavit came four days before he was implicated in the murder of Camangyan.

It was Antoling who invited Camangyan to go to the village to host an amateur singing contest. Also invited to the same event were Camangyan’s colleagues Frank Gupit and Nonoy Bacalso, who have been very vocal about the irony between Malanyaon’s program and the existence of illegal logging in the east coast towns of the province.

Illegal logging was an issue that not too many journalists in Mati City really dared to touch, perhaps aware of the dangers that they might expose themselves if they would even think about it aloud.

Scary precedence

There were scary precedence, of course—a police officer was killed in 2005 and an environmental officer also shot dead last year. Both of them got themselves involved in illegal logging in the province.

For Bobong Alcantara, manager of Sunrise FM where Camangyan held his program, the broadcaster had been warned about the dangers that awaited him by tackling the issue of illegal logging.

“I already warned him and the other broadcasters who were talking about it. He just told me that it was his support to the fight of the government to protect the environment, with the problem on climate change that we have now,” Alcantara said.

Sacrificial offering

During the necrological services for Camangyan on Thursday, his fellow broadcaster Joanna Mabini said Camangyan “was a sacrificial offering to the greediness and barbarism of these illegal loggers.”

“But he, too, is a gift to the environment. Because of what he believed and fought for, we will not falter in seeking for justice—for him and for the environment,” said Mabini.

Senior Supt. Jorge Corpuz, head of Task Force Camangyan, said the murder could be linked to the victim’s closeness to the family of Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat and his work as a broadcaster.

But the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in Davao City said no matter what were the “persuasions” of Camangyan, his death could not be justified as it was clearly “cold blooded and heartless.”

The only guilt of Camangyan, the NUJP said, was that he “challenged the devils in Davao Oriental—those whose pockets get fatter every time a tree is felled in the forests of the province.”

“No matter what his persuasions were, apparently Jesiderio ‘Jessie’ Camangyan hit the devils where it hurt them the most. And so they hit them back in the most despicable fashion—they sent a bullet right into his head,” the group said.

But Malanyaon, who attended the service, said it was unfair for the media to “speculate on the death of Camangyan.”

“I grieve about this. I am not really happy. But no, I don’t think we can speculate on his death. It is unfair for us to pass judgment this early. What is important is for the truth to come out,” she said.

“If we listen to all these talks, they are laced with malice. Even the word illegal logging or logging is something that we cannot be so absolute about. When is logging illegal and when it becomes legal?”

She added: “I learned that he had a cause. If illegal logging activities in Davao Oriental is true or not, I am with you as you demand that it must be stopped. But I hope that we stop all these speculations about his death. It is not proper to speculate. Let us wait for the results of the investigation being conducted by the authorities.”

The police have filed murder charges against Antoling and the suspected gunman, PO1 Dennis Jess Lumikid. Antoling remains at large while Lumikid has been “restricted inside barracks” pending the issuance of warrant of arrest by the court.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mati Employees Meets President Gibo Teodoro

President Gibo Teodoro Wows Mati Employees.
(from L-R: Yaying Dimpas, Annie Uy, Aloma Serafin, Gibo Teodoro, Roger Lemente)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eagles "Cabu" and "Aya" breed anew at Mat! Sanctuary

Jayson Ibanez, PEF Research Coordinator

Field expeditions by the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and DENR in 2008 and 2009 at the eagle sanctuary in Mati City confirmed breeding activities by a Philippine Eagle pair fondly called Cabu" and "Aya" by the coastal community of Cabuaya in Davao Oriental.

The eagle couple was already nursing an eaglet in November 2008. PEF biologists spotted the young bird as it was flying above the rugged forests at The southern end of the Agustin Peninsula- In expeditions that followed, (he juvenile eagle was seen performing practice aerial maneuvers, flapping from tree to tree and doing a few spiral ascents over rising hot air above deep gorges. Based on its features, flight patterns, and the breeding schedule for Philippine Eagles, the eaglet is about a year old.

In the last field monitoring trip, the young eagle was seen being fed by its mother with a huge flying lemur, the eagle's prime food in Mindanao. In January, like a jet plunging from high, the female swooped across the mountain towards the loudly begging eaglet. After a quick food transfer and a brief cruising flight above the nest, the female soared and disappeared among the clouds.

Researchers first found the Cabuaya eagle territory in 1995 after the young eagle "Kalayaan" was rescued I here- But it wasn't till 2003 when an eagle nest bearing a cotton-white chick was found. The following year, Cabuaya officials banned farming and residency within a 1 kilometer radius of the nest tree and gave the eagle couple their pet names-They also christened the 2003 eaglet "Cabuaya".

To further secure the eagle couple, their future eaglets, and their forest home, Mat! City officials installed a 7,000-hectare protected sanctuary, crafted a five-year sanctuary management plan, and allotted a" annual funding of Php 1,000,000.00 for livelihood support, education, research and habitat protection. Mati has submitted an application with the DENR for the recognition of the sanctuary as a Philippine Eagle "critical habitat" which will elevate the status of the sanctuary to a national protected area.

'Along with similar initiatives by Davao City, BIslig City, Pantukan and Tarragona, Mali City's conservation investment is a milestone in the preservation of our national bird, which is also one of the world's most threatened bird species. Since Philippine laws devolved the protection of forests and wildlife to the local governments, these municipalities and local governments have emerged as our local conservation champions" said Dennis Salvador, PEF Executive Director "We hope that all the other local government units along the eagle's range will do the same," Salvador added,

"The Philippine Eagle's status in our forests reflects the city’s environmental health and Cabu and Aya's new eaglet indicates a greener future for all Matinians, We are very happy that our efforts are already working" said Michelle Rabat, Mayor of Mati City.

PEF and DENR are now at the Mati Sanctuary to catch the eagles and mount satellite and radio transmitters on them. By tagging the eagles with these tracking; devices, both PEF and DENR hope to monitor the birds and ensure their safety,

PFF need extra transmitters and funds for public education 50 eagle pairs and their young elsewhere in Mindanao can be closely tracked and protected from danger. For inquires on how you can help, please contact PEF through or 082-271-2337.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Government’s Bureaucratic Bottleneck

Antonio V. Osmena
February 26, 2009

A GOVERNMENT bureau is created as a response to a specific problem.

In its early stages, a vigorous, small agency with dynamic leadership makes progress. But as it grows, its effectiveness and sense of mission decline.

Eventually the agency can become so large, complex and rigid that it chokes on all the highly specialized rules and regulations it has created.

More energy and money are then used to keep the agency operating, while it puts out less useful work and, sometimes, creates more problems than solving any.

As an example, many government regulations are necessary to protect the environment and consumers from abuse by a private industry.

However, most observers agree that the number and complexity of government regulations can and should be reduced.

Government officials know that most industries which are being regulated have teams of lawyers that will go through laws
and regulations to find even the tiniest loophole that will allow these industries to circumvent the intention of the law.

Most of the blame for overregulation lies with Congress. Because of bureaucratic overspecialization, government has become an enormous organism composed of separate cells of experts, often remote from the people, unable to see the overall picture, competing rather than cooperating with one another, and incapable of dealing with the multiplicity of
interlocking problems that characterize society today.

Another problem is that an overspecialized bureau becomes more concerned with its own survival than with its mission. Some are even taken over by the groups they are supposed to regulate.

To illustrate, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 under chapter 11 Institutional Mechanism established under Section 4 of the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

The commission is composed of 14 members from the government sector, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, the Metro Manila Development Authority, league of governors, league of city mayors, league of municipal mayors, league of barangay councils, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Philippine Information Agency and three private sector representatives.

The private sector representatives include a member of the recycling industry and the manufacturing or packaging industry.

The commission also includes the establishment of a National Ecology Center.

The act also established the Provincial Solid Waste Management Board and City and Municipal Solid Management Board.

A multi-purpose cooperative and association will also undertake activities to promote the implementation of projects in every local government unit (LGU).

The law is very comprehensive and was approved and signed by President Arroyo on Jan. 26, 2001.
But until today, not much has been done to implement it, specifically the provincial solid waste management boards, city and municipal solid waste management boards.

Observers are also concerned about the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, which was approved and signed by Arroyo on March 2, 2004 but still needs to be effectively implemented and gradually devolved to the LGUs.

Observers have pointed out that most attempts at bureaucratic reforms are ineffective, temporary or both.

New reforms which have been suggested to address bureaucracy include (1) providing more effective protection and higher rewards for “whistleblowers” who expose fraud and waste in government, (2) enacting and strictly enforcing sunset laws, under which government agencies and programs are evaluated periodically and eliminated unless they can be shown to be necessary, effective and efficient, (3) turning more of the national tax revenues directly to the LGUs, (4) streamlining the procedures for dismissal, (5) overhauling the evaluation and merit raise system and (6) giving LGUs more authority over spending of national grants.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Failure to Spread Wealth Hinders RP – World Bank

By Michelle V. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 13, 2009

The World Bank said the Philippines reproduction program was hampered by the failure to spread the benefits of economic growth from rich cities to poorer parts of the country

In its 2009 World Development Report, the bank urged Philippine officials to correct the situation through the appropriate policies and more equitable public investments.

The bank said that in the Philippines and other middle income countries, economic development was highly concentrated in a few urban areas.

Indermit Gill, director of the World Development Report and World Bank's chief economist for Europe and Central Asia, said growth in the Philippines was highly concentrated in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, and a few cities like Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro. Many provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao significantly lagged behind, he said.

Gill said the disparity in the quality of social services and infrastructure between advanced and middle-income countries like the Philippines was blatant.

If only the rural areas enjoyed the same quality of services and infrastructure that richer ones had, then investments could be spread out, the report said.

"Economic activities will remain concentrated in a few dues, but policymakers could ensure the convergence of living standards across the country through carefully designed policy and public investments in social services like health, education, housing and social protection in both urban and rural areas," said Gill.

The World Bank economist, however; said the government should not discourage the entry of investments in urban areas and should in fact facilitate them. But he stressed that poorer provinces should be made equally attractive for investors via increased spending in education, social services and sanitation.

Bert Hofman, World Bank country director for the Philippines, said in a press conference yesterday one way to achieve "economic integration" was for the national government to revise the way internal revenue allotments for local government units (LGUs) was determined.

Currently, 40 percent of the national government's internal revenue collections are allocated to LGUs. Of the amount, 23 percent goes to provinces, 34 percent to municipalities, 23 percent to cities, and 20 percent to barangays. Details of the sharing among local governments belonging to the same category, say municipalities, are based on population size and land area. The bigger the population and land area, the bigger the IRA from the national government.

Observers said one problem with this system of computing the IRA was that the population was highly concentrated in rich cities, and so these got a bigger share of the national government revenues.

The World Bank said the Local Government Code should be amended to have the IRA computed based on actual need, not on population size.

"Poorer ones should be given more, and richer cities should have less IRA, if not none at all," Hofman said.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Joey Ayala - Agila

How I wish I'll see again Joey Ayala's rock-opera "Sa Bundok ng Apo" (1982).

Joey Ayala

Nais kung lumipad tulad ng agila
At lumutanglutang sa hangin
Magkaroon ng pugad sa puso ng kagubatan
Ngunit ito ay panaginip lang at maaring di matupad

‘Pagkat ang kagubatan ay unti-unting nawawala
Mga puno nito’y nangingibang bayan
At ‘pag walang puno wala na ring mapupugaran
Kapag ang agila’y walang pugad
Wala na siyang dahilang lumipad

Oh haring ibon, hari kung tunay
Nais kung tumulong ng kaharian mo’y muling mabuhay

Kung nais mong makakita ng agila
H’wag kang tumingala’t tumitig sa langit
‘Pagkat ang mga agila nitong ating bayan
Ang iba’y nabihag na
Ang natitira’y bihirang magpakita

Tiniklop na nila ang kanilang mga pakpak
Hinubad na nila ang kanilang mga plumahe
At sila’y nagsipagtago sa natitirang gubat
Ang lahi ba nila’y tuluyan ng mawawala

Oh haring ibon, hari kung tunay
Nais kung tumulong ng kaharian mo’y muling mabuhay (2X)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Philippine Eagle

Photograph by: Klaus Nigge, National Geographic March 2008

The Philippine Eagle’s Precarious Existence

The Philippines, the only country where this species exists, has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. Over 90 percent of primary forest has already been lost, hindering the eagle’s survival. Though hunting the bird is now illegal, the government has been trying to attract investors and may favor mining interests over preserving the eagles’ habitat, which often overlaps with targeted mining sites.

Such activities change the environment in ways that also affect humans. In recent decades a series of devastating floods and mud slides as well as an increase in river siltation have taken a toll on both the Philippine human population and the region’s biodiversity.

Certain conservation measures are already in place to help protect the comparatively scant number of surviving eagles. Legislation has been passed to prohibit hunting and protect nests, as well as to survey the birds’ habitat, create public-awareness campaigns, and step up captive breeding. The bird inhabits the protected areas of the northern Sierra Madre Natural Park on Luzon and Mt. Kitangland and Mt. Apo Natural Parks on Mindanao.

Conservationists and the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) are also trying to increase awareness of the eagle’s plight. The government of Mati and the PEF recently established the 17,300-acre Cabuaya Forest as a protected area for the eagle. Dennis Salvador, PEF executive director, says, “We are working to establish six more areas in the eastern Mindanao corridor area within the next two years.”

Advocates for the eagle are also raising awareness through educational lectures and visits to the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City, Mindanao. Thousands of visitors come each year to learn about this raptor.

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