Panalipdan pays tribute to environmentalist/journalist – martyr Jessie Camangyan

The murder of media man and environmentalist Desiderio “Jessie” Camangyan , commentator of Sunrise FM Radio last June 15 in Manay, Davao Oriental is a condemnable act of impunity and deserves the highest form of decrial. The Panalipdan Southern Mindanao pays tribute to this staunch environmental advocate and calls for swift justice for his killing.

As a defiant logging and mining critic in Davao Oriental, Camangyan’s murder is a big loss to the people of Davao Oriental, the media institution, and the environmental rights community as a whole.

Having been the 101st journalist who was murdered for his political beliefs, his death adds to the crimes of the Macapagal-Arroyo government against the Filipino people, against democracy and freedom.

It is the likes of Camanyang who fearlessly advances the protection of the environment and the expose of corrupt leaders and agencies engaged in the abuse and exploitation of our land and resources for capital gain of a few. It is also his kind that is made target by the state which has regrettably become the protector of transnational mining and logging companies.

Davao Oriental has long been beset with the problem of illegal logging particularly in the towns of Baganga, Cateel, Manay and Tarragona. Massive and state-institutionalized logging the area started way back in the Marcos’ time when hectares of lands across the boundaries of Agusan, Davao Oriental and Surigao have been awarded for logging to the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP).

Presently, logging giants Baganga Ply, Matugina Timber and Tops field have been operating on a massive scale. Although these operate with Integrated Forestry Management Agreement (IFMA) and Community Based Forestry Management Agreements (CBFMA) permits, their operations continue to threaten the timber and forest resource and the sustainability of the ecosystems in the province.

Jessie is strongly opposed to the illegal logging operations “which involve local government officials in cahoots with the police and the military.” Before he died he has also exposed that mining companies with timber licenses have also been rampantly conducting illegal logging operations.

A day before Camangyan died, PANALIPDAN Davao Oriental led a fact-finding mission (FFM) in Brgy. Macambol, Mati. The group’s FFM report showed that Phil Youbang Mining Corporation which holds a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement ( MPSA) permit to mine more than 1000 hectares in Mati, has also been conducting logging activities in Sitio Sopsopon in Brgy. Macambol and in neighboring villages.

Disturbingly, Philyoubang logs Magkuno (iron wood), Banile and other premium species like Tangile. Some of these were estimated to be century – old trees. They also uproot the wood stumps, and pulls out the entire root system, therefore leading to the loosening of the soil which causes soil erosion and siltation of the water systems surrounding the logged out areas. Philyoubang’s operations will destroy the Pujada Bay together with its rich coral reefs and mangrove forests along its bay.

It is precisely this wanton destruction that Jessie Camangyan has strongly criticized in his radio program. It was this kind of policy, of such brazen atrocities against the environment which his many listeners in Davao Oriental remembered Jessie Camangyan has spent the last days of his life standing up against.

Perhaps this is the biggest lesson that Camangyan’s death ought to teach all of us, that the protection of the environment is worth the struggle. The issue of environment or any biodiversity issue is not just a basic issue of survival, it is most of all a human rights issue– upholding human dignity against the onslaught of greed and profit worship..

Salute to Jessie Camangyan and to all journalists and media workers who are martyred due to their environmental and human rights advocacy. Justice for all the victims of extrajudicial killings!

The people will continue on advancing the struggle for justice and truth and your deaths shall not be in vain.

Acting Secretary General
PANALIPDAN – Southern Mindanao