A call for responsibility
A nickel mining site in Surigao del Sur. JUN SANTIAGO III, CSsR
THE recent tropical storm, Basyang, that hit Surigao del Sur last February 13, 2018 brought untold suffering among the people, especially in the areas of Cantilan and Carrascal where a flash flood swept a few houses, destroyed several hundred hectares of ricelands and caused death with the initial count of 5 people including children, and injured many others. There is no doubt that the typhoon with waning signal number 2 was the immediate cause of the devastation.
However, many residents whose lives and livelihood have been severely affected, are calling for an investigation into the reasons why the flood came so fast, and that in some areas, a number of logs and felled trees were swept downstream, destroying houses and other physical structures along the way.
There are claims that siltation ponds have collapsed in some mining sites, causing the rush of floodwaters downstream. Social media is now filled with pictures showing the extent of devastation in several barangays, especially Barangay Babuyas, Gamuton, and Panikian in Carrascal and Barangay Buntalid, Cabas-an and Parang in Cantilan.
Some sectors have also pointed out that the flooding in Cortes, Lanuza, Carmen and Madrid were qualitatively different from the inundation that devastated Cantilan and Carrascal. The downpour during Basyang was way below compared to the people’s experience of walo-walo or eight (8) days of raining without letup.
Could the reason be due to massive mining operations that denuded the natural forested mountains and critical watersheds of Cantilan and Carrascal?
The Provincial Government of Surigao del Sur, in their press release, made no mention on the extent of the effect of the calamity; let alone its root cause. It only mentioned its relief and rescue operations with the help of mining companies some of which are allegedly owned by the high-ranking government officials of the province.
For this reason, we call for an immediate and independent investigation on the flooding in CARCANMADCARLAN, particularly on the much-affected parts of Cantilan and Carrascal. We therefore call on the DENR, regional and national offices, Civil Society groups and organizations, and other relevant institutions and government agencies to organize a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary team that will look intently into the matter.
We continue to pray for the victims of the calamity. We seek justice for the economic wreckage on agriculture. We seek the constant intervention of Mary the Mother of God in all our prayers.
+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, DD. JCD, MBA
Bishop of Tandag