Mindanao's ecology to suffer if armed conflict continues

In a forum held here Sunday, Bro. Karl Gaspar, CSsR, presented Vietnam as case study on the effects of war on ecology based on materials available in the internet.

Gaspar, in a PowerPoint presentation, showed the enormous damage of Vietnam's ecology owing to the 30-year war. He then shifted into the parallels between the Vietnam War and the war in Mindanao affecting areas like Lanao del Norte.

The speaker cited that Kolambugan’s environment has sustained damage as a result not only of previous wars but also of logging and other human activities “that have had enormous impact on the fragile eco-system of Lanao del Norte.”

“For many decades, logging took place around the province and nearby provinces for processing into wood and wood-based productions.  The site of these processing plants has been in Kolambugan,” Gaspar said.

He also noted that like many other towns located around the Panguil Bay, Kolambugan was a bountiful fishing area owing to the lushness of the mangroves that grew along its coastal areas. 

“Today, most of the mangroves have been destroyed and very little effort has been done to rehabilitate the mangroves of the coastal areas of Kolambungan and adjacent towns,” he said.

Consequently, fishing in the Panguil Bay has continued to deteriorate, he added.

During the forum, MindaNews’ GYERA! photo exhibit served as the main visual material for the participants to see not only the effects of the war on people's lives and properties but also the environment in these parts of Mindanao.

Some 200 students, teachers, church workers and youth leaders attended the forum, which was held at the Holy Cross High School here. Most of the participants were from the various towns of Lanao del Norte, but there were also those who came from the cities of Iligan, Ozamiz and Pagadian.

The forum was co-sponsored by the Sisters Assembly of Mindanao (SAMIN) of the Dipolog-Ozamiz-Pagadian-Ipil-Marawi sub-region and the Office of the Diocesan Schools of the Diocese of Iligan. 

The co-sponsors aimed at helping the participants understand why war takes a heavy toll not only in terms of human lives but also on the environment.

Kolambugan suffered when violence erupted after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the Memorandum of Ancestral Domain on Ancestral Domain between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

MILF forces attacked the town leading to the death of some civilians, destruction of properties and evacuations of hundreds of residents to Iligan City and other areas.

The SC eventually declared the MOA-AD as unconstitutional.

Malacanang would later dissolve the government peace panel whose members initialed the aborted agreement and replaced them with new faces three months later, in December. (MindaNews)