Advocacy Mindanow: Mindanao typhoon-free? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 December 2011 13:07

BY Jess Dureza

The last time I can recall Mindanao, specifically Davao, was hit by a typhoon  was  about 40 years or so ago. Typhoon “Titang” circa late 1960’s veered its course and slammed the coastal towns of Davao del Sur including Davao City. I was a new reporter of the Mindanao Times then just fresh from college.

Mindanao is traditionally “outside the typhoon” belt.  Although typhoons are born in the Pacific Ocean  east of the island, they start their  westerly course northwards and always miss us. In fact, Mindanao boasts of its comparative advantage in agriculture in that we are immune and free from typhoons.  But not over this weekend.
Typhoon “Sendong” hit northern Mindanao and up this time, Cagayan de Oro, the hardest hit is still reeling from the shock.
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LUCKY RELATIVES  — I  called up our relatives in Cagayan De Oro City as I knew their house was built near the river. My uncle, the late Felimon Dureza was a retired  bus driver of the Jesuit’s Xavier University and I was told that the university helped  the family with  a lot for a home in Barangay Carmen. The house just disappeared with the rushing waters.

Our lucky cousins  saved themselves, 10 of them including small children by climbing  a big mango tree that was just outside the window.  The house was shattered and they clung for dear lives on the branches until they were rescued. I am sure countless horror stories will start filtering out when the smoke clears.
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SAD CHRISTMAS — With the many dead and homeless , perhaps we can spare a little bit of our blessings this christmas season for those suffering victims. The city government under Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio is generating support. Also the DSWD. Or other kind souls.

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ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — I got word that the provincial government of Zamboanga del Sur, under Gov. Tony Cerilles, overturned a proposed ordinance by its Municipality of Bayog thereby throwing out an anti open pit mining ban initiated by the local town.. Gov Tony served as DENR secretary for sometime during President Estrada’s administration. He holds the view that the provincial government has no business banning open pit mining when it is allowed by the Mining Act, a national law.

He knows whereof he speaks.
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BISHOPS AGAINST   — The 3 bishops of the cities of    Kidapawan , Koronadal,  and Digos yesterday issued a statement opposing the Tampakan copper and gold project and they laid down the specifics of their opposition.

This is good because it gives now an opportunity for XTRATA and  Indophil owners of  SMI, Inc. to explain their  side  and clear up the apprehension of the public if they can.

What is important too is for the good bishops to also give the mining company a chance to give its side and  explain those points that the bishops consider as important to protect their flock and the future. I personally know Bishops Afable, Gutierrez and de la Cruz. They will listen. I hope they have an open mind, notwithstanding the Church’s institutional anti-mining posture.
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VOICE OF LUMADS? — In my scan of the mining issues in Mindanao, I have however noticed that the lumads or the indigenous peoples of the mining areas, including the host local government units, are drowned out  by anti-mining elements who are not from the area. The biggest joke  is that many so-called advocates preach and  proclaim   that the IPs or lumads must decide or determine for themselves but in reality, the noisy and more vociferous protesters   supplant the locals with their own positions. For example, in Tampakan, South Cotabato, the lumads there are very supportive, I was told. But IPs  from other areas and not from Tampakan, orchestrated by other interest groups,  bark otherwise. In Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, the lumads there were even demonstrating in support of mining company TVI. Even the host municipality Siocon, and the other surrounding towns were rising up to denounce the open pit mining ban approved by the province.
So, what self-determination are we talking about?