Kagay-an Festival ‘shows’ CdO has recovered’

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY(MindaNews/ 29 August)—This year’s Kagay-an Festival showed that this city has “moved on and is now back on its feet” after the devastating Tropical Storm Sendong hit in December, but local environmental and business groups stressed the recovery can be made even faster with a “no-nonsense enforcement of environmental laws” and risk reduction management programs.

Emil Rana, city director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, said in a text message Wednesday that the locality “has risen fast, as manifested during the Kagay-an Festival.”

Frank Rolleda, a local businessman, shared the observation of Rana, urging residents to do their part for the city’s recovery.

“Judging from the barangays’ participation in the number of core and accredited activities, we are moving forward. How far forward, we should just close ranks and do our part,” Rolleda said.

Carl Cesar Rebuta, a resident and whose family regularly celebrates the city’s fiesta, observed that this year’s Kagay-an Festival showed the “overwhelming synergy of the Kagay-anon.”

“The challenge now is how (we can) maximize this unity to respond to the governance of our fragile ecosystem,” said Rebuta, also a convenor of the Kagay-an Watershed Alliance, a coalition of green groups in the city.

The observance of the fiesta showed the fast recovery and unity of the people in Cagayan de Oro, which can be used in our search for solutions to problems hounding the environment and its management, he added.

Jerome Soldevilla, president of Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Industries, likewise believes that the city is not only “back on its feet and recovering” but is also “economically progressing.”

“However, [our] efforts as a community towards enhancing disaster resiliency or preventing a repeat of catastrophic effects from a natural calamity seem to be still much wanting,” he said in a text message.

“We still need to see a no nonsense drive to enforce environmental laws, particularly on protecting watershed areas and preventing illegal mining, as well as long-term programs on effective solid waste management,” Soldevilla added.

He stressed that cleanliness and orderliness in the city are still major challenges to make Cagayan de Oro truly more attractive in the long run.

But for Orlando Ravanera, chair of Task Force Macajalar, the city has yet to recover. The task force is a coalition of professionals, church leaders and people’s organizations advocating for the integrity of Cagayan de Oro’s watershed zones.

“Until illegal mining operations in Iponan persist and until measures are instituted against [potential] ecological disasters, and when the victims in the tent cities are given decent shelters, only then can we overcome Sendong and rectify our sins against Mother Nature,” he said on the phone.

Ravanera urged the strict implementation of risk reduction and management measures in the city. (Cong B. Corrales/MindaNews)