The Clowns Of Davao Oriental

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DESPITE hundreds of deaths and thousands now sill fighting for life, the mourning is so over for officials and politicians in Typhoon Pablo-devastated Davao Oriental Province.

They are those who are wielding power, and for whatever power they so insatiably want to have control over, who have conveniently set the stage for the party despite the fresh funerals and the stench of pain and grief still yet to settle down.

Nevermind if the backdrop of the stage is the ugly truth of hunger, homelessness, and that thirst for justice as the clowns have all been paid, bloating in people’s money, ready to amuse the children. The mothers are not hard to trick as one only needs a bag of rice and a few pack of noodles and cans of tomato sauce sardines. The fathers will smile, easily pacified by the sight of a cheap bottle of some rum.

The clowns will speak a language masterfully woven to pierce the heart and attempt to disarm those who resist. The clowns will look at everyone in the eyes; their own eyes, the color of blood, frighteningly hypnotizing.

What these clowns want everyone to forget is the truth behind Pablo. They want everyone to forget why Pablo happened in the first place. Most importantly, they want everyone to forget why Pablo had to be as deadly as it turned out to be.

Of course it does not take a genius to know that Pablo was licensed to kill by logging and mining operations, illegal and legal, in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. Speaking during the Mindanao Development Forum in Davao City early this year, Climate Change Commission Sec. Mary Ann Lucille Sering said the devastation of Pablo could have been avoided despite the weather changes. The statement, no matter how undertoned, hit the marrow in the blame-game–which is too tempting, as it is justified, to participate in.

Nine months before Pablo, authorities confiscated illegally-cut logs in Boston, Davao Oriental. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it will investigate local officials who could have been involved in the illegal logging operations. Nothing was heard about it since.

In August, another truckload of illegally-cut logs was seized still in Boston. A year before this, President Aquino ordered the implementation of Executive Order No. 23 which totally bans logging activities in the Philippines.

In 2006, various groups asked the DENR to stop the logging activities in the town of Cateel and other towns in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. The groups particularly wanted the DENR to impose a total log ban. It came following the destruction of Typhoon Auring in Luzon in December 2005.

In a letter they submitted to the DERN, the groups said that the existence of illegal illegal logging “has bred anarchy, alienation, and ruined the ecosystem due to indiscriminate, exploitative, and irresponsible utilization of natural resources.”

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Signing the letter were Cateel Parish Pastoral Coordinating Council and the Cateel Multi-sectoral Alliance.

It’s another thing that this Philippine Daily Inquirer article named Cateel Mayor Camilo Nuñez, along with Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon and Davao Oriental First District Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang, as behind the illegal logging operations in the province.

Nuñez is the brother of Malanyaon. Cateel is Malanyaon’s hometown.

Malanyaon, who was once accused of barging into a radio station in Mati City, slapping a broadcaster in a fit of rage, denied the accusation that the logging operations in the province had her blessing. The incident where she attacked a radio broadcaster just died on the air.

In this report, Malanyaon said: “I have never gotten myself involved in logging whether legal or illegal. As a matter of fact, on record, in Congress, I was the only congresswoman at that time who moved to defer the budget deliberations of the DENR during the time of Secretary Defensor which led him to impose a total log ban for about 10 to 15 days.”

Let us all be reminded that before Pablo claimed hundreds of lives, a Mati City broadcaster named Jesiderio Camangyan was killed in Manay town while hosting a local singing contest. Before the killing, Camangyan was among the very few who dared talk about the rampant illegal logging operations in Davao Oriental, particularly in the Governor’s hometown of Cateel. Before he was killed, Camangyan was warned about the dangers awaiting him for speaking on the matter.

But Camangyan was unmoved as he wailed over the irony surrounding the circus called One Million Trees, a flagship program of Malanyaon, and the allegations that a million trees were also being felled and hauled illegally from the forest of Davao Oriental–Cateel included.

Camangyan’s death will always be linked to the alleged illegal logging operations in Davao Oriental.

How lucky for Malanyaon her releection bid is unchallenged. How lucky she is she has her own clowns.

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