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Philippines Deforestation Threats and Reforestation Issues

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 AT 03:31AM


Henrylito D. Tacio
Davao City, 1 September 2013. A couple of years ago, the Philippine Congress
released a study that said about 123,000 hectares of the countrys forest cover are
lost every year. Unless reforestation is started, the study further stated, there
would be no forest left in the country by 2036 thats exactly 23 years from now.

President Benigno S. Aquino III, in his


state of the nation address (SONA) in 2011, stated that most politicians use one
possible solution that of tree planting as a photo opportunity. They plant trees,
but they do not ensure that the trees would remain standing after they leave, he
said.
When he was still the head of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR), Michael Defensor admitted that only 30% of reforestation
projects succeeded. In a Subic meeting of local executives, he told them: People
hardly recognize the economic benefits from protecting the environment. Most
sabotaged the program.
The bluntness seemed to echo an earlier study of the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization, entitled Sustainable Forest Management, which stated, Most of the
(Philippines) once rich forest are gone. Forest recovery, through natural and
artificial means, never coped with the destruction rate.
When Ferdinand Magellan rediscovered the Philippines in 1521, forests blanketed
95% of the country. When the Ormoc City, Leyte tragedy happened which left
8,000 people dead timber cover was only 18%.
Where have all our forests gone? asked Roy C. Alimoane, the director of Davaobased Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center. American President Theodore Roosevelt
once said, A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country
without trees is almost as helpless.
Why is the country heading towards oblivion? I have seen fortunes made overnight
from the forest and it makes my skin crawl to realize that there are many Filipinos
who just dont care about the future generations legacy in the way of forest
resources, said Ferdinand Marcos in 1978.

The said statement, according to veteran journalist Marites Daguilan-Vitug, is a


doublespeak. In an article she wrote for World Paper, a Boston-based magazine,
she explained: For, in reality, over 20 years (1965-1985) he used his power to
grant and revoke licenses of logging concessions to enrich himself, his family and
his friends. The forests became his grand political tool.
Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, the vice-chairman and chief executive officer of World Wildlife
Fund-Philippines, agrees. In an article he penned for Philippine Daily Inquirer, he
surmised that when Marcos came to power serious deforestation began. Before
Marcos became president, there were only 58 companies issued with timber
licenses; it swelled to 412 during his presidency.
Forests were decimated at an astonishing rate of 300,000 hectares per year, Tan
deplored. Toward the end of the Marcos regime, forest hectarage was down to 7.2
million hectares, about half of what it was when he came to power.
Who had the privilege of cutting trees? Vitug asked. The wealthy and wellconnected. They lived in the big cities. Some even sold their rights to the forest
concessions and lived off the green of the land. Moreover, money for logging
supported candidates during election campaigns.
In the past, forest resources helped fuel the countrys economy. In the 1970s,
Philippines was touted the prima donna among world timber exporters. Today, it is
considered a wood-pauper, to quote the words of multi-awarded journalist Juan
Mercado.
Even the forests in the lowlands mangroves, that is are not spared from
denudation. Approximately two-thirds of the countrys original mangroves have
been lost, noted Population Reference Bureaus Kathleen Mogerlgaard.
Aside from logging (whether legal or illegal), other causes of deforestation in the
Philippines are forest fires, kaingin farming (slash-and-burn agriculture), and
mining operations. Volcanic eruptions have also devastated some of the countrys
tropical rainforests. Ditto for typhoons, which have devastated considerable
hectares of forest areas.
Surging population has compounded the problem. There were only 19 million
Filipinos, according to the 1940 census. By 2020, the population will surge to 111.7
million, National Statistical Coordination Board projects.
Poverty, lack of jobs and wages, and absence of farm lots in the lowlands have
forced some people to invade the forest, commented former Senator Heherson
Alvarez, who served as environment secretary during the administration of Corazon
Aquino.
Spreading cities have also contributed to decimation of forests. Asphalt is often
the last harvest for many forests, the late National Scientist Dioscoro Umali, a
Ramon Magsaysay Award recipient, once said.

The outcome: food crisis, devastation of lands and water resources, biodiversity
facing extinction. The productivity of the countrys agricultural lands and fisheries
is declining as these (forest) areas become increasingly degraded and pushed
beyond their capacity to produce, said Mogerlgaard.
The removal of forest cover has bolstered soil erosion in the uplands. Soil erosion
is an enemy to any nation far worse than any outside enemy coming into a
country and conquering it because it is an enemy you cannot see vividly, reminded
Harold Ray Watson, the 1985 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for peace and
international understanding. Its a slow creeping enemy that soon possesses the
land.
As a result, food production is jeopardized. The loss of nutrient rich soil reduces
crop yields and contributes to the expanded use of chemical fertilizers a practice
that can, in turn, pollute water resources, Alimoane said. Rivers and streams also
carry eroded soil to the coasts, where it interferes with fish nursery areas.
But thats not all. Extensive soil erosion has resulted in the siltation of waterbeds,
reservoirs and dams, and in the process shortening their productive life spans, said
Dr. Germelito Bautista, of the Ateneo de Manila University.
The Magat Dam reservoir has been reported to cut its probable life span of 100
years to 25 years. The Ambuklao Dam reservoir has had its life halved from 60 to
32 years as a result of siltation.
Water crisis is looming. There has been a drop of 30% to 50% in the countrys
water resources in the past 20 years or so, pointed out Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero,
former executive director of Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and
Development.
Rapid forest loss has eliminated habitat for unique and threatened plant and
animal species, Mogerlgaard observed. At the rate our forests are getting
destroyed, many species many no longer be around when we need them, Alimoane
said.
More than 400 plant and animal species found in the country are currently
threatened with extinction, including the Philippine eagle and tamaraw, according to
the World Conservation Union.
Studies show that a pair of Philippine eagle needs at least 7,000 to 13,000 hectares
of forest as a nesting territory. The Philippine eagle has become critically
endangered species because the loss of the forest had made it lose its natural
habitat, said ex-president Fidel V. Ramos, who declared the eagle as the countrys
bird icon.
Without forest, floods are expected to happen not only in Metro Manila (which has
no forest cover to speak of) but also in other parts of the country where
deforestation continues. The flooding problems, said Aquino in his 2011 SONA,
are caused by the incessant and illegal cutting down of trees.

Filipinos are urged to stop cutting trees now and preserve the remaining forests the
country has. We have laid to waste millions of hectares of forest land, as though
heedless of the tragic examples of the countries of Africa, the Middle East, and the
Mediterranean, where large areas have become barren, if not desertified, Alvarez
said. If we have not, in fact, reached this state, we are almost at the point of
irreversibility.
Dr. Ernesto Guiang, a forestry consultant, echoed the same concern: We are now at
the eleventh hour. We have to pay attention to the handwriting on the wall with
respect to our forests.

Deforestation, a Growing problem in the Philippines


Labels: biodiversity, climate
change, deforestation, rainforest, reforestation

Forest in our country are very rich in biodiversity. Many of our plants and animals
could be found in the rainforests. It is due to the constant high temperature and
humidity in the tropics. Unfortunately, many forests are threatened due
to deforestation. The primary reason are commercial logging and cutting of trees to
provide for their agricultural needs.
There are so many effects of deforestation in our country. Not only the giant trees
will be lost but also the species living in the forests will disappear. Some of it are the
tarsiers and the Philippine eagle. And we should not wonder why our country
experiences consistent flashfloods and landslides."According to the recent reports of
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDMC) about 262,107

families have lost their homes while about 1.355 million people have been
affected." Some negative consequences ofdeforestation also include the disruption
of
water
cycle
and
climate
change.

During the 20th century the Philippine Forests covers almost 70%. But due to
massive forest exploitation, excessive annual cuts and weak reforestation efforts it
dropped to less than 20%. Based on the analysis almost 9.8 million hectares of
forests were lost. If deforestation won't be stopped there would come a time that
the natural resources and biodiversity in forests will be lost. And if there would be
continuous abuse of resources it is estimated than there would be no more
rainforests left within 15 years.

Too many people: Philippine island being deforested despite


extensive protections
31 October 2014 / Shaira Panela
About an hour and a half plane ride from the Philippine capital Manila is Palawan, a
long, narrow island home to about a quarter of all the animal species found in the
country. But the province is losing its forests at a rapid clip due to human
population increases, logging, quarrying, mining, and even a huge palm plantation.
Almost completely covered in Protected Areas, Palawan lost 6.4 percent of its tree
cover in just over a decade
About an hour and a half plane ride from the Philippine capital Manila is a long,
narrow island home to about a quarter of all the animal species found in the country.
So unique is this island called Palawan that it hosts two World Heritage sites, the
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in the provincial capital, and the Tubbataha Reef
in Cagayancillo.
Data from Global Forest Watch (GFW) reveal more than 6 percent of Palawans
forest cover has been lost since 2001. But as humans raze the islands extensive
forests for development, many animalsincluding 27 endemic species of birds, 19
varieties of land mammals, and 24 kinds of reptilesare facing huge population
declines.
Environmentalists and scientists say the island has many problems: land conversion
due to human population increases, logging, and even a huge palm plantation,
together with continuous quarrying and mining activities.

Pal
awan is home to crested serpent eagles (Spilornis cheela). Photo by Jonah van
Beijnen.
Growing human population
Its just too many people, and more people need more space, said Dr. Neil Aldrin
Mallari, country program director of Fauna & Flora International Philippines, a
London-based environmental organization.
The National Statistics Office (NSO) records show that the population in Palawan
grew at an annual rate of 2.66 percentfrom 2000 to 2010. If this rate continues, the
population in the province is expected to double in 26 years. Growth is even higher
in Puerto Princesa City, whose population increases by 3.24 percent every year.
The highest concentration of deforestation has occurred in areas around Roxas,
Arceli, Puerto Princesa and Batarasa, according to Mallari.
Mallari and his research group also studied forest cover change within the Puerto
Princesa Underground River National Park.
Their paper, published in Environmental Management, showed about 1,500 hectares
of forest in the protected area were felled between 2002 and 2007, and the land
converted for other uses such as agriculture and residential development.
More than 40 years ago, under Proclamation 835, the underground river in Puerto
Princesa was declared a national park, highlighting the need for maintenance and
conservation of the areas natural beauty and ecological importance. About twothirds is covered in lush tropical rainforest, which also serves as center of endemism
in the province with many species found nowhere else in the world.

Vis
itors approach the entrance to the underground river in Palawans Puerto Princesa
Subterranean River National Park. Photo by Mike Gonzalez.
Mallaris study also found that if deforestation is rampant in a protected area, the
situation could be worse in other parts of Palawan that lack conservation policy.
However, all is not bleak. In 1992, a national law called Republic Act 7611 was
passed to establish a Strategic Environmental Plan for the province, which
includes sustainable development of natural resources and promotion of
participation of the public, including Palawans indigenous communities, in
conserving the islands ecosystems.
Illegal logging activities
Rapid population growth is not the sole driving force behind forest cover loss in
Palawan.
According to a representative from a Palawan-based organization, illegal logging is
one of the biggest contributors to forest cover loss.
People living in the mountains still practice slash-and-burn where they cut trees
and burn them to make the land available for farming, said the environmentalist,
who asked not to be identified.
Elmer Badilla, a Palawan-based journalist, told mongabay.com that deforestation in
the southern part of the province results from bark tanning, in which bark harvested
of mangroves is used to tan leather.
He added that caingin (slash-and-burn clearing), illegal land conversion and
charcoal production are also common in northern Palawan.
Forest destruction is wrought not only by residents of Palawan, but also by those
from neighboring islands.

Migrants from other provinces such as Masbate were also seen to enter the
province through boats, the anonymous environmentalist said. They, too, are
known go to the forests and cut trees.
Based on our operations, the proliferation of chainsaw should also be curtailed.
One chainsaw can cut about 2,000 hectares of trees a year.

A
tributary of the Taranaban River in Palawan, where a new species of spider water
beetle was discovered in 2011. Photo by By Hendrik Freitag & Michael Balke.
Palm oil moves in
According to the environmentalist, expansion of Palawans palm oil industry has also
led to significant forest loss.
A study by the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI), a Swedish research
institution found that the first oil palm seedlings were planted in the province in
2007, with harvesting starting in 2011 on a 3,592-hectare tract of land.
The palm oil project in Palawan was led by Palawan Palm & Vegetable Oil Mills, Inc.
(PPVOMI) (60 percent Singaporean-owned and 40 percent Filipino) and its sister
company Agumil Philippines, Inc. (AGPI) (75 percent Filipino-owned and 25 percent
Malaysian). The companies possess licenses to cultivate oil palm on at least 15,000
hectares of forestor about 2 percent of the total land area of Palawan.
The SEI study cited instances in which local residents reported oil palm farms
affecting forest and coconut groves.
In the municipalities of Quezon and Rizal alone, the DENR has identified 185.25
hectares of oil palm cultivation in timberland, comprising 35.15 hectares of forested

land both outside and inside the Mt Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and 150.1
hectares in Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) areas, the study states.
Confronting the issues is a difficult task, according to the anonymous
environmentalist.
The problem is so difficult to solve, he said. In a scale of 1-10, 10 being the
hardest, I would rate the deforestation in Palawan is a 7.

De
forestation for a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia. Such practices are
starting up in Palawan. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
Mining is not the main issue
Mallari, Badilla and the environmentalist agree that mining contributes to
deforestation, but it is not the primary culprit. However, while it brings jobs to some
residents, unsustainable mining practices may lead to destruction of natural
resources.
This controversial issue led to the 2011 death of a well-known radio announcer and
environmentalist in the Province, Dr. Gerry Ortega. He was gunned down in Puerto
Princesa City shortly after his radio program. Prior to his death, Ortega had been
receiving death threats because of his anti-mining views.
Local journalist Elmer Badilla said that mining is mostly concentrated in the
southern tip of the province. One of the more well-known mining companies, Rio
Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation has been operating in Bataraza for more than 40
years.
Aside from that, there are also mining sites in the towns of Narra, Brookes Point
and Sofronio Espanola, Badilla said.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino issued an executive order to stop all pending
mining applications in Palawan in 2012. However, all established mining operations
in the province were allowed to continue.

Among the legally-operating mining sites in Palawan are Coral Bay Nickel Mining
Corporation in Bataraza, MacroAsia Mining Corporation in Brookes Point, Berong
Nickel Corporation in Quezon and the Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation
also in Bataraza.
[Mining] may have contributed [to deforestation] but its more of just the growing
population in the area, Mallari said.
Loss of habitat and ecosystem services
These human activities added up to more than 64,000 hectares of forest loss in
Palawan from 2001 through 2012, according to Global Forest Watch. When
compared to the islands total one million hectares of tree cover, this means 6.4
percent of the province was deforested in just over a decade. However, a small
portion of this number may be due to plantation harvesting.

Palawan has lost more than 64,000 hectares of tree cover since 2001. Map courtesy
of Global Forest Watch.Click to enlarge.

Palawan has experienced significant tree cover loss despite being nearly completely
covered in Protected Areas. Map courtesy of Global Forest Watch. Click to enlarge.

The edges of Palawans last remaining large tract of intact forest have been
whittled away since 2000. Map courtesy of Global Forest Watch. Click to enlarge.
Land converted for human needs and wants comes at a cost to wildlife that are
often killed or displaced when their habitat is cleared.
Birds are forest dependent, Mallari said. If you shave off the forests, there is a
corresponding decrease especially of the threatened species.
One of the threatened species he identified is the Palawan peacock pheasant
(Polyplectron napoleonis).
These species are more vulnerable than we are and they have high fidelity to
forest ecosystems. A decrease in their population means a decrease in their
habitat, he told mongabay.com.
He said Palawan peacock pheasants and other species of birds that breed during
summer cannot adjust easily if theyre displaced by habitat loss, or if the
microclimate of the forest changes due to climate change.
Sometimes rain starts in April or May, killing the chicks and eggs of birds because
they are always wet. Even their mating patterns are disrupted, Mallari said.
Deforestation has the bigger effect on biodiversity and climate change as well.
Deforestation pushes these species to the brink of extinction.

Th
e Palawan peacock pheasant is endemic to Palawan, and is listed by the IUCN as
Vulnerable. Photo by Dante Alighieri.
Mallari also said that aside from the animal species in the forests, humans are also
affected by deforestation.
Forest means life to us because forests are our first line of defense against
typhoons, water, clean air and lots of things, he said. And it is not just about the
size of the forest but the quality.
A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Geography and Geology found miningcaused deforestation could interfere with groundwater resources and could even
make El Nino-induced drought worse in the Philippines.
With less trees there will be more runoff during storms and less water retained
during droughts, William Holden, professor at the University of Calgary and author
of the study, told mongabay.com Climate change is expected to make storms
stronger and droughts worse.

PHILIPPINE RAINFORESTS ARE DISSAPEARING


HENRYLITO TACIO
In 2011, Typhoon Sendong brought 12 hours of continuous rain to Mindanao Island.
Tragedy took place after that. The rivers flooded and people were crushed by logs
or drowned. The government declared it a national disaster with the storm
affecting 338,000 people in 13 provinces.
Sean McDonagh, a priest who worked in the area, said that decades of deforestation
Cagayan de Oro City and nearby provinces was to blame for the scale of the
disaster. Much of the region was converted from rainforest into pineapple
plantations.
The deforestation was literally criminal, he told The Universe Catholic Weekly. If
the rainforest in the area had been left intact, even 12 hours of continuous rain
would not cause this devastation. The rainforest canopy would stop the torrential
rain from hitting the ground directly. Trees would also absorb the water.
The root cause is the denudation of our forests, commented one
environmentalist. This is a sin of the past that we are paying now.
Harold R. Watson, a former American agriculturist who had been helping the locals
in Mindanao, agreed. When man sins against the earth, the wages of that sin is
death or destruction, he explained. This seems to be universal law of God and
relates to all of Gods creation. We face the reality of what mans sins against the
earth have caused. We are facing not a mere problem; we are facing destruction
and even death if we continue to destroy the natural resources that support life on
earth.
It is impossible to exaggerate the ecological debacle threatening the Philippines.
More than 90 years ago, the Philippines was almost totally covered with forest
resources distributed throughout the 30 million hectares. These resources provided
income, employment, food, medicine, building materials, and water as well as a
healthy environment.
In the 1950s, only three-fourths of the archipelago was covered with forest,
according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). By
1972, the figure had shrunk to half, and by 1988 only quarter was wooded and just
one tiny fraction of this was virgin forest.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said about 7,665,000
hectares of the country is forested. Between 1990 and 2010, the country lost an
average of 54,750 hectares per year.
According to environmentalists, logging operations legal and otherwise are
mowing down the countrys remaining forest cover.
The Rev. Peter
Walpole, executive director of the Ateneo de Manila Universitys Environmental
Science for Social Change, said the Philippines trusted logging companies to cut
down trees and manage the forest. But they did a very bad job, he decried.
That started the problem that we have now.
In 1989, the government imposed a lumber export ban in an effort to save the
countrys forests from uncontrolled illegal logging. The following year, the ban was
quietly lifted, but was reinstated after loud criticism.
DENR, the lead agency responsible for the countrys natural resources and
ecosystems, is virtually powerless in stopping rampant illegal logging. It has no
guns, no radios, no boats, and only few men to roam the jungles, where they are
usually terrorized by armed men or rebels.

Another culprit of the rapid disappearance of forests in the country: mining


operations. This is the reason why some Blaan tribe in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur are
fighting the entry of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) into what tribe leaders said was the
tribes ancestral domain.
The forest, to us, is like a vast market. We get everything we need there. It is our
hunting ground, our drugstore, our farmland and our sanctuary. Destroy the forest
and you also destroy our lives, Rita Dialang was quoted as saying by the Philippine
Daily Inquirer.
Other causes of deforestation in the country include forest fires, volcanic eruptions,
geothermal explorations, dam construction and operations, fuelwood collection, and
land development projects (construction of subdivision, industrial estates, and
commercial sites).
The countrys surging population has likewise contributed to the problem. At least a
fourth of the total population lives in the upland areas, where most trees are
located. Most of them practiced slash-and-burning agriculture (kaingin farming).
These migrant farmers attack virgin forest lands to cultivate the rich soil, which
they quickly deplete, observed Watson. Then, they move on, looking for more.
One day, there is no more.
If you think deforestation happens only in the uplands, youre wrong. Even in the
lowlands, mangroves are fast disappearing. Mangrove forests grow where saltwater
meets the shore in tropical and subtropical regions, thus serving as an interface
between terrestrial, fresh-water and marine ecosystems.
In 1981, there were an estimated 450,000 hectares of mangrove areas in the
country. Since then, there has been a decreasing trend from 375,000 hectares in
1950 to about 120,000 hectares in 1995.
At that time, one environmentalist wrote: All over the country, whatever coastal
province you visit, you see the same plight desolate stretches of shoreline
completely stripped of mangrove cover and now totally exposed to the pounding of
the oceans waves.
Deforestation is a symptom of a bigger problem, says Nicolo del Castillo, an
architect by profession who teaches at the University of the Philippines. I probably
sound baduy (tacky and outdated) but I see the problem in the prevailing system of
values, that is, the greed, the need to be the biggest, the wealthiest, and
sometimes you feel hopeless. I am an optimist, but possibly there will be more
tragedies and maybe then more people will wake up.
How many Ormoc tragedy where almost 5,000 people perished (almost half of
them residents of Isla Verde should happen before Filipinos should heed the
warning?
For over a century, we have waged a relentless assault against our once majestic
woodlands, said ex-Senator Heherson Alvarez. We have laid to waste millions of
hectares of forest land, as though heedless of the tragic examples of the countries
of Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, where large areas have become
barren, if not desertified. If we have not reached this state, we are almost at the
point of irreversibility.
But perhaps not. Hope is on its way, said Dr. David Kaimowitz, director-general of
Center for International Forestry Research. We have had enough of doom and
gloom.
For this reason, the FAO regional office in Bangkok published In Search of
Excellence: Exemplary Forest Management in Asia and the Pacific. These inspiring

stories remind us there are good people out there doing good things in the forests,
Dr. Kaimowitz said.
Of the 22 case studies featured in the 404-page book, four are from the Philippines.
Luzon has three good examples. The Kalahan Forest Reserve between Santa Fe,
Nueva Vizcaya and San Nicolas, Pangasinan, provides a compelling case of an
indigenous ethnic group using forestry practices to help maintain cultural identity.
Theres the muyong as practised by the Ifugao people, known for their rice
terraces. A muyong is an untilled slope covered mainly with timber, fruit trees,
climbing rattan, bamboo, palms and other associated natural vegetation, which is
often used as a source of fuelwood.
In Los Baos, Laguna, the 4,224-hectare Mount Makiling Forest Reserve is the only
intact forest within the vicinity of Metro Manila, said the book, published by the FAO
regional office. When it was first set up in the early 1900s, its primary objective was
to promote scientific and technical knowledge related to conservation and
ecosystems.
In Kalibo, Aklan, the 70-hectare Buswang Mangrove Plantations was included in the
book. The reason: A community-based organization is able to protect the area, and
later the forest, from encroachers, including attempts by powerful individuals to
appropriate parts of the area for their own use.
Mindanao has no case included. But since the late 1970s, the Mindanao Baptist
Rural Life Center (MBRLC) in Bansalan, Davao del Sur, has been promoting the
Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT), a sustainable upland farming that
combines soil conservation and reforestation in one setting.
The FAO book was published in 2005. Watson, the director of MBRLC, was given the
Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1985 for his innovation. But despite the sustainability
of the aforementioned systems, they failed to capture the attention of policymakers
and even politicians. Farmers, even landowners, also ignored them.

SC stops activities in Mt. Santo Tomas forest


By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 30, 2014 at 10:04 pm

The Supreme Court. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO


MANILA, PhilippinesThe Supreme Court issued on Tuesday a temporary
environmental protection order (TEPO) stopping development projects in the Mt.
Santo Tomas forest reserve along the border of Pangasinan and Benguet provinces.
The court en banc, presided by Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, granted the
TEPO and referred to the Court of Appeals the writ of kalikasan case filed last Sept.
12 by residents of Baguio City and Tuba in Benguet, and San Fabian, Pangasinan.
Among the petitioners were Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and Catholic Bishops
Conference of the Philippines president Socrates Villegas and Baguio Bishop Carlito
Cenzon
ADVERTISEMENT
The Court ordered one respondent, Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. and his agents to
cease and desist from performing acts to develop or enhance the property located
at M. Santo Tomas forest reserve which he has claimed to be his or his brothers.

The acts include the improvement of the old building standing on the land, the
building of any structure thereon, continuing with any road activities and concreting
any part of the road.
The Court ordered Aliping to immediately take steps to mitigate the contamination
of the Amilang dams due to the erosion emanating from his road opening project.
The Court also ordered the Tuba municipal government, led by Mayor Florencio
Benitez, to cease and desist from accepting applications for the issuance of tax
declarations over lands within the forest reserve, from processing applications that
have already been filed, and from issuing tax declarations that have already been
processed and approved.
According to the petitioners, the development projects could affect the Mount Sto.
Tomas watershed and threaten residents water supply, particularly Baguio, a highaltitude city which has been having difficulty obtaining potable water.
They sought to stop activities that they believed contributed to the degradation of
Mount Santo Tomas, namely: illegal tree cutting and man-made erosion due to a
road opening on the mountain side; deforestation due to expansion of vegetable
gardens and residential areas; and illegal small scale mining activities.
The high tribunal noted that the petition invoked the principle of intergenerational
equity, which imposes on the present generation the duty to protect the
environment and to pass on its bounty to the coming generations.
The court required all the respondents in the case to file their comments to the
petition within 10 days. The Court of Appeals will accept the comments, conduct
hearings and receive pieces of evidence after which it would render judgment.
There have been complaints that the activities in the watershed disrupted springs
there, turning the water muddy and unfit for distribution to water consumers. The
petitioners also said the project initiated by Aliping, which involved the construction
of a road connecting several villages in Tuba to the Mount Kabuyao Highway, could
also endanger Amilang Creek, which flows into dams that act as water reservoirs.
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