MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 December) – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao OIC Gov. Mujiv Hataman has issued an order stopping all logging operations in Lanao del Sur. But sooner or later he will realize to his dismay that implementing the stoppage requires more than just making bold policy statements. He will have to step on the toes of people who even the President himself may find hard to whip into line.
Any official is deluding himself if he thinks he can easily get rid of a malady that has become a major lifeblood for local politicians, and abetted by corrupt military, police and environment officials.
Hataman’s order came in the wake of the flood caused by Tropical Storm Sendong, particularly in Iligan City where thousands of logs apparently coming from Lanao del Sur were swept ashore.
An embarrassed Governor Adiong has denied the logs came from his province, but common sense tells us he was mouthing crap. Based on Lanao del Sur’s topography in relation to Iligan, there is no other logical explanation. Let Adiong wash his hands on the tragedy that struck Iligan. It won’t change what’s obvious to everybody by now.
Adiong further said they have stopped issuing logging permits. That’s a lame explanation, which only revealed that he has failed to protect the forests. Denying permits doesn’t necessarily mean the cutting has stopped. And if the cutting hasn’t stopped despite the non-issuance of permits, it means the loggers enjoy protection from individuals in high places. Or worse, the loggers themselves occupy high positions.
These are the hard realities that Hataman would encounter if he is serious in his campaign to stop logging in Lanao del Sur. He is dealing with a Mafia-like network of political and economic interests bound by a mutual lust for cash and control.
If Hataman can really put a stop to the unbridled logging activities in Lanao del Sur, I’m afraid I would have to take back my words that President Aquino was expecting too much when he said that postponing the elections in the ARMM and putting handpicked officials will bring about far-reaching reforms in the region.
But can the OIC governor muster enough political will – and will the President give him all-out support – to go after the rapists of Lanao del Sur’s forests? Starting January next year, Hataman has only eighteen months to deliver. Moreover, he has to attend to the other pressing problems in the ARMM.
Most likely, the issue will be forgotten with the passing of time – until another disaster strikes. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)