The environmental team composed of 22 persons from government agencies, non-government organizations and the Diocese of Marbel made an ocular visit on three sites in Tampakan, South Cotabato on 26 May 2009.
On 9 June 2009 the team reported their findings during the meeting at the Bishop’s Residence. Attendance: 33 including Gov. Daisy and 2 Germans.
Rene Pamplona, Justice and Peace Desk, Diocesan Social Action Center, presented the following slides:
1. About 10 hectares of forested area were cleared in crossing Mangisi. The area has an elevation of 1,366 meters above sea level.
2. Trees were burnt.
3. Girdling (removal of bark) of trees was evident. Girdling causes trees to die.
4. Drilling machines were see, even if Sagittarius Mines, Inc. is already in the final phase of exploration.
5. Estimated 3 hectares of forested areas were destroyed by hydraulic mining or “banlas”. Erosion.
6. People on the banlas sites run away when they saw the team approaching. Left behind were pails, wooden pans, PVC pipes with water still running, and others.
7. The banlas operation is just a few meters away from the SMI’s camp. It is covered by SMI’s Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement.
8. Waters in the streams, rivers and creeks were contaminated as far as Brgy. Liberty Bridge. Muddy waters were flowing.
After the presentation, clarification and elaboration followed. Decisions were made (Initial Strategic Plans). (1) Dialogue with DENR. (2) Massive education in the grassroots/BECs. (3) Lobbying before concerned national government agencies, DENR, DILG, etc. (4) Strengthen the network SOCSKSARGEN Climate Act Now (CAN). (5) File complaints.
Assignments: 1) Legal to prepare briefs; 2) DSAC to identify the root cause of the destruction of the mountain in Tampakan.
Next meeting of the Diocese of Marbel Environmental Team (DMET) will be on June 23, 2009, 9am, Bp.’s Residence. Media are welcome. Prepared by Danny Sabino, DXCP.
Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 536. 11 June 2009)