Friday, September 24, 2010

Green Groups back proposal to proclaim Sept. 26 as “Save Sierra Madre Day”

Green Groups back proposal to proclaim Sept. 26 as “Save Sierra Madre Day”

MANILA, Sept. 24 (PNA) -- As the nation commemorates the fury of last
year’s typhoon Ondoy this Sunday, two major green networks support a
growing campaign to declare Sept. 26 of every year as “Save Sierra
Madre Day.”

The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and EcoWaste Coalition, in a press
release, expressed their unity with the Save Sierra Madre Network
(SSMN), the lead group pushing for the “Save Sierra Madre Day.”

The ATM, which has over 80 members nationwide, and the EcoWaste
Coalition, which has over 100 members, both strongly support SSMN’s
proposal to the government to officially observe Sept. 26 as “Save
Sierra Madre Day.”

Fr. Pete Montallana, one of the convenors of the SSMN, on Tuesday
announced their plan to mark Ondoy’s first anniversary as “Save Sierra
Madre Day” to call attention to the urgency of protecting the 1.5
million hectare mountain range from widespread illegal logging and
other “developmental intrusions.”

“Forested mountains are our best natural defenses against the twin
scourges of ‘too much water’ on one hand, and ‘too little water’ on
the other. Ondoy and the recent drought brought by El Nino could not
have done their worst on the island of Luzon if its once-majestic
protector, the Sierra Madre, had not been so degraded by unabated
logging and other “developmental” intrusions,” the Aurora-based
Franciscan priest said.

“Alyansa Tigil Mina believes that another Ondoy can be prevented if
our remaining forests are completely protected. One way to ensure this
is to stop the entry and expansion of large-scale mining operations.
The President and the Environment Secretary must declare certain areas
as ‘no-go zones’ for mining, such as Sierra Madre,” Jaybee Garganera,
ATM national coordinator, said.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to halt landfill and
other “dirty” waste disposal projects that make Sierra Madre “a
graveyard of garbage.”

“Open dumpsites, ‘sanitary’ landfills and other waste disposal
facilities like used tire pyrolysis plants and cement kilns firing
solid and hazardous waste pose toxic threats to Sierra Madre and her
capacity to sustain life amid the climate crisis,” said Rei Panaligan,
EcoWaste Coalition Coordinator.

According to the SSMN, the Office of the President received their
letter proposing “Save Sierra Madre Day” last July 30, which was
subsequently transmitted to the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources for action on Aug. 13. The draft proclamation on “Save
Sierra Madre Day” is reportedly in the desk of Undersecretary Manuel
Gerochi since Sept. 16.

At the House of Representatives, Congressmen Maximo B. Dalog (Mountain
Province), Carlos M. Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya) and Teddy B. Baguilat,
Jr. (Ifugao) filed last Sept. 21 House Resolution No. 00438 declaring
Sept. 26 of each year as “Save Sierra Madre Day.”

Storm Ondoy was just one of a series of storms and typhoons that
devastated different parts of the country last year, snuffing lives
and destroying homes, property, crops and livelihoods, the groups
observed. Yet it has come to symbolize our country’s vulnerability to
the impacts of climate change, the groups said.

“The lesson of Ondoy is as elementary as it is clear: the more trees
we have standing, the better our chances of surviving another
typhoon’s onslaught – and, if we are to rely on sound scientific
projections, more onslaughts are coming. The climate has changed and
it is not for the better. It will continue to change and we will
continue to feel it – unless we re-learn the virtue of nurturing back
our environment – which ultimately is not for its sake but for ours,”
the groups said.


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