Tag Archives: DENR

PAMALAKAYA TWITS DENR CHIEF PLAN TO TAP MUSIC TO PROMOTE ENVIRONMENT

By Kaka Esteban and Kremlin Montenegro

Manila, Philippines-,“Music is good but we need results.”

This was the initial reaction of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) upon hearing newly installed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Eleazar Quinto’s plan to tap music to promote environmental consciousness among the people.

Sec. Quinto announced that the DENR is embarking on songwriting competition to drum up the cause for environment dubbed as “Likhang Awit Para sa Kalikasan” to arouse the citizenry’s passion for the environment.

“This so-called super road show presentation is nothing but an outlandish promotional blitz for a government agency checkered with records of environmental sell out and destruction of national patrimony and triple platinum crimes of corruption in the service of Malacanang corporate partners and clients. This is image building at its best,” says Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader noticed that Sec. Quinto wants to promote music as instrument to raise environmental awareness, the newly designated environment chief has been snubbing a group of indigenous people camping outside the DENR office since January 22.

Hicap was referring to protest camp set up by groups opposed to the ambitious P 52-billion Laiban dam project in Tanay, Rizal. He said of Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog, Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Kasama-TK), Anakpawis party list and Katribu party list were scheduled to meet Sec. Quinto for the dialogue but the new secretary last Jan.21, but Quinto refused to meet them prompting activists to temporarily blocked the entrance and exit gates of the environment office.

Pamalakaya vice-chair Salvador France said a letter urging Sec. Quinto to face the opposition groups to Laiban dam project was delivered on Jan.12, about 10 days before the scheduled meeting. The letter was received by the DENR receiving section on the same day.

“Secretary Quinto is evading the issue which is a matter of life and death to affected fisherfolk, farmers and indigenous communities. For the information of Mr. Quinto, Laiban dam project will directly displace 20,000 upland villagers. Will he accept an entry to Likhang Awit Para sa Kalikasan that directly puts his principal Mrs. Arroyo, Palace client Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco and his office on spotlight for crimes against the people and the environment?,” France said.

The Pamalakaya leader added: “It seems to us that the P 52-B Laiban dam project between MWSS and San Miguel Corporation is a done deal and Sec. Quinto is compelled by the appointing authority to follow the anti-people multi-billion project. Will he accept an entry on this?”, he further asked.

France said the P 52 billion dam project was part of the exchange deal between Mrs. Arroyo and SMC chair Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, the group added.

Two weeks ago, officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) announced that the deal will with SMC will be sealed by March. MWSS administrator Diosdado Jose Allado said the government targets to award the project to largest food and beverage conglomerate upon the submission of necessary requirements. #

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Group urges Sierra Madre electorates to reject protectors of big loggers

By Pepsi La Loma

Manila, Philippines- The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged voters encompassed by the Sierra Madre range to reject politicians running in the May 2010 elections who have tie ups with big time logging syndicates.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap issued the statement a day after concerned groups and local government officials confirmed the sudden increased logging activities in Sierra Madre which were tied to the May 2010 elections.

“The Sierra Madre vote must punish those behind the unbridled large-scale logging adventures in Quezon and nearby provinces such as Rizal and Aurora provinces. We ask the vigilant citizenry to name these politicians and let them suffer the biggest electoral humiliation in their entire political career,” the Pamalakaya leader said in a press statement.

Hicap said it is time to name these big logging syndicates supporting the candidacy of powerful politicians in South and North Quezon, as he appealed to concerned groups and environmental activists to disclose which among these companies are operating and who their backers are.

Pamalakaya agreed with observations raised by opposition groups that the renewed large-scale logging activities in Quezon and in the entire Sierra Madre had something to do with elections. “Aside from jueteng money, the next best source of campaign funds in Quezon is the gang of big time loggers in the province,” the group said.

“The aggressive hunt for electoral campaign funds is the main reason why big time loggers are back in business even though there is an existing total log ban in Sierra Madre. The total log ban is nothing but a toothless tiger and was merely declared for public image building for Malacanang,” the group said.

The militant group also assailed DENR secretary Eleazar Quinto for not doing his job in stopping big time logging groups in Sierra Madre. Pamalakaya said the newly installed environment chief, being former chief for field operations of DENR before assuming the top environment post, was well informed about the large-scale logging activities of private groups in Sierra Madre.

“Quinto is just a figurehead in DENR, so he does not have the balls to confront these all-time, prime time logging syndicates in Sierra Madre,” said Pamalakaya #

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Militants slam new DENR chief for evading talks on Laiban dam

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Militant groups opposed to the ambitious
P 52-billion Laiban dam project in Tanay, Rizal slammed newly appointed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Eleazar Quinto for evading a dialogue with their leaders last Thursday.

Leaders of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog, Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Kasama-TK), Anakpawis party list and Katribu party list were scheduled to meet Sec. Quinto for the dialogue but the new secretary was not present prompting activists to temporarily blocked the entrance and exit gates of the environment office last week.

Pamalakaya vice-chair Salvador France said the letter urging Sec. Quinto to face the opposition groups to Laiban dam project was delivered on Jan.12, about 10 days before the scheduled meeting. The letter was received by the DENR receiving section on the same day.

“Secretary Quinto is evading the issue which is a matter of life and death to affected fisherfolk, farmers and indigenous communities. For the information of Mr. Quinto, Laiban dam project will directly displace 20,000 upland villagers,” France stressed.

The Pamalakaya leader added: “It seems to us that the P 52-B Laiban dam project between MWSS and San Miguel Corporation is a done deal and Sec. Quinto is compelled by the appointing authority to follow the anti-people multi-billion project. That’s the reason for the snub.”

France said the P 52 billion dam project was part of the exchange deal between Mrs. Arroyo and SMC chair Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, the group added.

Last week, officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) announced that the deal will with SMC will be sealed not later than March. MWSS administrator Diosdado Jose Allado said the government targets to award the project to largest food and beverage conglomerate upon the submission of necessary requirements.

Pamalakaya said to sow disunity and terror among indigenous people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines had stepped up its recruitment for Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) among the Dumagat and Remontado allocating 20 percent of its personnel for the indigenous peoples. The latter have long denounced this military scheme, saying CAFGU recruitment sows disunity among them.

Most villagers however continue to refuse joining the CAFGU believing that they are just being used by the military as a cannon fodder or shields for their counter-insurgency operations.

Military atrocities in the Southern Tagalog region peaked in 2000-2001 when 11 military battalions were deployed in the area, causing the displacement of about 220 indigenous families living in four provinces, including Rizal and Quezon.

The dam, when finished, will provide an average 1.89 billion liters of water a day for some 5.5 million residents of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces by 2015. The project will also include a hydropower plant to supply 25 megawatts of electricity. #

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DENR chief told: GMA, not LGU has last say on Mindoro mining project

By Margie Duran Floresco, contributor

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said the statement of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Joselito Atienza that local government unit of Mindoro has the last say on the controversial nickel project on the island was misleading and extremely absurd.

“That’s not true, that’s not true. The mining project in Mindoro Island is a national flagship project and therefore, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has the last and final say on whether this nickel extraction escapade in the island should proceed or not,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap said local government officials can voice their opposition to Intex Resources nickel exploration, but it is still President Arroyo who will decide whether to allow or disallow the Norwegian mining giant to push through with its’ project.

“The nickel project has the seal of approval of Malacanang and was billed as one of the flagship projects of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. If Atienza wants to kill the project he should have revoked the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued on Oct.14 by his office and tell Mrs. Arroyo to stop this corporate madness for the sake of the environment and collective interest of the people,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Atienza said the ECC granted to Intex Resources was just one of the requirements for the nickel mining project to commence and it us up to the local government if they allow the project to proceed. The environment secretary explained that could not arbitrarily cancel the ECC given to Intex because there are laws to follow, stressing that the cancellation of ECC will send wrong a signal to foreign investors.

But Atienza said that if the project is proven to cover a watershed area, as claimed by those who opposed to the project, then the ECC would be automatically moot in accordance with the law.

But Pamalakaya’s Hicap rebuked Atienza, and charged the environment secretary of gambling people’s lives and environment in the name of the government’s obsession for mining investments and fat commissions.

“How come the ECC of Intex Resources was approved by DENR? How come the people were not consulted? Mr. Atienza is not an expert on environmental concern as far as the Filipino public is concerned. He is just a limelight getter or an attention getter from boxing champ Manny Pacquiao,” Hicap added.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya appealed to the Norwegian government to compel Intex Resources to pullout its mining investment in Mindoro, citing the disastrous impact of the project, which will initially displace around 20,000 residents, mostly members of the Mangyan tribe.

“The Norwegian government should convince Intex Resources to drop its mining investment in Mindoro like a hot potato. This project will put the European state in a very, very bad position and standing in the international community. While we recognize and pay high respect to the efforts of the Norwegian government as third party facilitator to the peace talks between the Manila government and the communist led National Democratic Front of the Philippines, we do not subscribe to this kind of destructive escapade,” the group said.

The militant group commended Mindoro Oriental Gov. Arman Panaligan and Vice-Governor Estela Aceron for sticking to their position against the nickel mining project in the island. But Pamalakaya advised the two top local government officials of the island province to bring the battle of the island people against the mining project to Malacanang Palace.

“The fight against the mining project should not stop at Secretary Atienza. The next and the penultimate battle should reach Malacanang and President Arroyo, since the Chief Executive and her policy on liberalized and all-out mining should be blamed for the current woes suffered by the people of Mindoro,” added Pamalakaya. #

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DAR promised to look into farmer’s landlessness

By Axel Pinpin, contributor

Mnaila, Philippines-In a dialogue yesterday with the farmers, Sec. Nasser C. Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform promised to look into the wide scale conversion of farm lands in Southern Tagalog.

The militant KASAMA-TK criticized what they called ‘one of the nailed promises of DAR.’ Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of KASAMA-TK said that they have been hearing promises from the agency decades ago. “Sec. Pangandaman is the ultimate liar; he cannot assure that DAR will study the agrarian disputes our group presented because recently he declared that he already approved the application of 43,000 hectares of farm lands for conversion.”

Lacandazo’s group is pressing DAR to cancel all conversion order especially after typhoon Ondoy hit most of the agricultural area in the region.

KASAMA-TK together with the leaders of their provincial chapters presented several agrarian cases in a day-long dialogue with the DAR secretary. Among them is the controversial Hacienda Looc estate in Nasugbu, Batangas being developed by Henry Sy. It involves 8,650 hectares of productive rice field, the farmer’s group said.

Outside the DAR office, more than 300 farmers staged a die-in to dramatize their call for a genuine agrarian reform in the country.

“The 70% of the country’s population needed a radical and pro-farmer land reform not a bogus reform for the landlords and foreign investors,” Lacandazo said, referring to RA 9700, the enacted law after the lower house and senate approved the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) bill.

Earlier, other groups held a dialogue with Director Nilo Tamoria of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

PAMALAKAYA from Southern Tagalog is demanding DENR to stop the construction of the R1 Coastal Road Extension in Bacoor, Cavite and the mothballed Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal, expressing their concern on the aftermath of the two typhoons that hit the country.

The group walked-out of the dialogue after Tamoria declared that the DENR cannot do anything about the project.

The farmers built a camp-out in front of the DAR building and will join the other farmers from Central Luzon today. They will be marching to Mendiola for the culmination of their week-long protest. October 16-21 is declared as Peasant Week in the country.#

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(UPDATE)Southern Tagalog farmers say new land reform law will bring catastrophes to land tillers

by Axel Pinpin, contributor

Manila, Philippines – The militant KASAMA-TK (Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan) expressed dismay over the extension of 20-year old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and warned of massive re-concentration of land to the hands of big landlords and foreign companies in the country.

“In the midst of destruction and damaged brought by typhoon Ondoy to the agriculture sector in the region, we should gear for more catastrophic events that will be brought by CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER),” Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of KASAMA-TK said during a picket-protest in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City where more than a hundred of farmers staged a die-in to dramatized their condition.

The Provincial Agriculture Office in Laguna reported that 7,300 hectares of rice field were submerged during the height of flood caused by the overflowing of Laguna Lake that leads to a 21% reduction of the total production of rice in the province.
Lacandazo noted that even before the typhoon, rice fields in Laguna were already flooded leaving the farmers in destitute after the cropping season.

According to the group, this situation is aggravated by high land rental and usury, low wages of farm workers and low-prices of agricultural produce.

Earlier, the group picketed in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources while their leaders are presenting the group’s demand in a dialogue with Sec. Lito Atienza. They are pressing the DENR to stop the construction of Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal saying that it will displace indigenous people in nine communities.

The group is also calling to immediately discontinue the R1 Coastal Road Extension Project in Bacoor, Cavite adding that 100,000 families will lost their houses and source of livelihood.

“Kailan pa matututo ang gubyerno sa mga mapangwasak nilang proyekto? Kitang-kita naman na kung hindi sa mga diumano’y proyektong pangkaunlaran ng gubyerno, hindi sana natin sasapitin ang mga ganitong kalamidad,” Pedro Gonzales, secretary general of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya in Southern Tagalog (PAMALAKAYA-TK) stated in his speech during the rally.

Gonzales also blamed the Laguna Lake Development Authority for its negligence in controlling the structures built along the shore of the lake that caused flooding in the nearby communities.

The leaders of KASAMA-TK and their provincial chapters held a dialogue with the secretary of DAR to discuss several agrarian disputes in the Southern Tagalog region.

The agrarian cases, according to Lacandazo, have long been keeping the farmers landless in spite of the implementation of the bogus CARP. She mentioned the Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, Camella Homes owned by Manny Villar in Batangas and Ayala Properties in Cavite among others.

“The conditions of the farmers are miserable, with the CARPER now signed into RA 9700, it will be wretched,” the group added.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 calamity farmer victims in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog region on Tuesday night are gearing up for a rural camp-out at the national office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to press their 10-point immediate demand to Malacanang, the DAR and the Department of Agriculture, which they argued will address the rural crisis worsened by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.

In a joint press statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakpawis party list, the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) will present the set of demands on the eve of their long march from DAR to Malacanang on Oct.21 dubbed as Farmers’ March for Land, Justice and Rehabilitation”

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the devastating impact of typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng is best addressed by the following measures:

1. Free distribution of land to landless and land lacking farmers all over the country. In particular, farmers from Central Luzon represented by AMGL demanded the immediate and unconditional free distribution of 375 hectares of land in San Miguel, Bulacan allegedly landgrabbed by Rep. Luis Villafuerte, the 3,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino in Tarlac province.

In Southern Tagalog, peasant groups demanded the free distribution of all agricultural lands owned and controlled by rich families like the Ayalas and the Yulos in the region. Kasama-TK also pressed the government to stop all Calabarzon projects in Southern Tagalog, including the controversial Laiban dam project.

2. Support housing projects for farmers and rural people whose homes were destroyed or uprooted at the height of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.
3. Rehabilitation of farms and granting of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and d other farm crops
4. Financial grant of about P 10,000 to P 15,000 per hectare
5. Zero interest credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P 10,000 to
P 15,000 per hectare
6. Provisions for farm implements such as tractors, hand tractors and carabaos.
7. Setting up of potable water supply.
8. Moratorium on irrigation fees imposed by the National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems.
9. Livelihood to rural people
10. Automatic repudiation of farm debts, if not moratorium in payment of principals and interests on acquired loans from landlords and local financial institutions. (With reports from Roy Morilla and Bb.Joyce Cabral

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Lake groups launch 10k signature drive vs. NCHS

By Ms Sugar Hicap and Billy Javier Reyes

Lakeshore groups in Rizal and Laguna provinces belonging to the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and the multi-sectoral environmental group Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) has launched a signature drive seeking the immediate and conditional dismantling of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS), which the groups blamed the massive flooding of lake towns around Laguna Lake.

In a joint press statement, Pamalakaya and SLMM said the Laguna Lake and its people will always be in state of across-the-lake flooding and constant danger, unless, the national government and lake authorities decide the dismantling of the structure, which it said is the biggest obstruction to the smooth and logical flow of flood waters to Manila Bay.

Pamalakaya national chair and SLLM convener Fernando Hicap said anti-NCHS groups hope to gather at least 10,000 signatures and will submit these to Senate and the House of Representatives once Congress resumes session next month.

“10,000 signatures will be enough to convince lawmakers about the necessity of removing this structure from Laguna Lake. If that is not enough, then we will gather more and engage in pound-for-pound fight for the dismantling of Napindan hydraulic monster,” Hicap added.

The Pamalakaya leader said signatures for the dismantling of NCHS will come from several towns of Rizal, Laguna and on the part of the National Capital Region, the signatures will come from Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa.

The signature campaign will also ask the national government and the local government units to put an end to all reclamation and road dike projects along Laguna Lake, which Hicap said is also one of the factors why Laguna Lake swallowed 30 towns in the lake , because these projects also prevented the smooth flow of waters in the 90,000 hectare-lake on its way to Pasig River and then to Manila Bay.

The 10,000 signature campaign will also demand the formation of independent body that will investigate and will look into the current state of Laguna Lake. The groups suggested that the body shall be composed of representatives from the Philippine Senate, the House of Representatives, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the other church organizations, environmental groups and experts, representatives from people’s organizations. Leaders of Pamalakaya and SLLM eye Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno to head the probe body.

Pamalakaya and SLLM asserted that towns surrounding Laguna Lake were already submerged in waters ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Ondoy.

Reports from field coordinators of Pamalakaya and SLMM in Rizal and Laguna provinces said fisherfolk and lakeshore residents had already noticed the rising water level in Laguna Lake and excess waters had spilled along in 30 towns in Rizal and Laguna provinces, and in the National Capital Region before Ondoy pounded heavy rains on September 26.

“The disaster is bound to happen. It is a perfect storm in the making because the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) refuses to open the NCHS that will dispose excess waters in the lake. Tropical storm Ondoy only fast tracked the commencement of the super calamity,” they said.

Hicap lamented: “We have been sending hundreds of notices to LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda that the lake authority should open NCHS to prevent the happening of a Great Flood all over the lake and in Metro Manila, but Mr. Manda is either not listening to this fearless forecast, or he is not doing his assignment or he is ignorant of the issue and its consequences to more than 6 million lakeshore people.”

“Where will Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. Manda relocate the people of Laguna Lake? In the moon? In the purgatory? ” the Pamalakaya leader asked.

The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.

Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River.

The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River (with reports from Lollipop de los Reyes and Gerry Albert Corpuz). #

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