THE SENATE HEARING
ON SAMAR RAINFOREST AND A REQUEST TO OUTSTANDING U.P. ALUMNI: ENRILE
TORRES and CHARO NABONG CABARDO
December 8, 2005
Enrile and Defensor, please ask your chulalays to visit this
http://poetry.rotten.com/past/ormoc/. They might like what they
see and print the pictures for you. I don’t know if President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo, Ph.D. from the U.P. also, would be interested in
visiting the website.
Harking to the
words of Jose Rizal – you must have heard of him Honorable Senator
Enrile and Secretary Defensor – in November 5, 1991 the flash flood
that struck Ormoc City and Burauen in Leyte, killed approximately
8,000 people. Some 50,000 were rendered homeless.
logging was banned in Samar, Leyte’s adjacent island where some
people have moved to Leyte, thereby Samarizing Leyte. The ban was
the result of a typhoon that unleashed floods that washed away
entire villages and killed more than 100 Samarnons.
23, 2003 the Philippine Government declared a state of calamity in
Southern Leyte after weekend floods and landslides killed up to 209
people. Leyteños, Samarnons, and other kind Filipinos donated to a
fund raising initiated by Mr. Osserman Caceres, Leyte Association
President of the Leyteños of Northern California, and Filipino
lawyer Rene Pascual and San Francisco Consul General at that time,
Delia Meñez Rosal.
2004, in the wake of four killer typhoons that devastated Quezon,
Aurora and Nueva Ecija, leaving 1,300 dead and nearly half a million
people homeless, the Filipinos in America, and we in the San
Francisco Bay Area in California were almost ballistic in soliciting
donations in kind and money to help the victims of that calamity. I
am wondering if these two outstanding UP alumni, the Honorable
Senator Enrile and His Eminence, Secretary Defensor, contributed to
the fund raising to help the victims of the killer typhoons and the
of this recitation of the morbid events associated with the cutting
down of the trees in Leyte, in Samar, Luzon, and other parts of the
We are sharing
with you an email from Charo Nabong-Cabardo who attended the hearing
conducted by a humble but caring official of the Philippines,
Senator Jamby Madrigal, in the Senate.
invited to that hearing. A word on Charo. She is also a UP
alumnae. But she is not as honorable, outstanding, and as powerful
as Messrs Enrile and Defensor. But Charo almost lost her life for
Pilipinas. After that episode, she tried coping with the demands of
life bereft of the power that the two UP outstanding alumni, Enrile
and Defensor, have at their fingertips. She was succeeding. But
Samar beckoned. So she went back to that island and its poor
people. As Executive Director of Tandaya Foundation, Charo and her
team has done a lot of studies on Samar and its rainforest and the
environment. One of her works is entitled "Saving Samar's Last Rain
Forests: A Primer". This came out in 1995 with Tandaya Foundation
as the publisher.
Charo’s letter to the world, sent through us.
Sent: Tue, 29
Nov 2005 15:47:27 -0800
attended the Senate Committee Hearing on the Lifting of the Logging
Moratorium in Samar island called by Senator Jamby Madrigal. Other
senators present were Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Senator Lim,
Senator Serge Osmeña. The Samar group was composed of Bishop Angel
Hobayan, Fr. Agustin "Boy" Opalalic, Fr. Mike, ex Gov Lutgardo Barbo,
and me representing the NGOs. Others present were Atty. Ron Gutierez
(our legal counsel), Fr. Robert Reyes (the running priest), Prof.
Blas Tabaranza (of Haribon), Atty. Porblador, lawyer of San Jose
Timber Corp and regional executive director of DENR. Notably absent
were Mike Defensor and other high-ranking officials of DENR. Senator
Jamby Madrigal opened the hearing recalling that yesterday was the
anniversary of the disaster in Aurora and Quezon and asked Bishop
Hobayan to say a prayer for those who perished.
presented the effects of logging in Northern Samar and mining in
Eastern Samar and Fr. Boy read the Joint Statement of the Samar
Leyte Prelates and Clergy on the Logging Moratorium. Fr. Boy ended
his reading of the statement saying that we must be given a chance
to settle this matter legally. Ex Gov Barbo presented his stand on
"Samar Forest and the Enrile-Defensor Backscatching Tandem" (see
annexed article on this which appeared in today's Inquirer). I
presented a powerpoint presentation on the history of logging in
Samar island and its significance to the people of Samar. The maps
presented especially the progressive denudation of the forests of
Samar island drew a dramatic reaction especially from the senators.
(The senate, reporters, my colleagues all asked for copies).
presentations opened up the issue of mining which Senator Osmeña
said is even more destructive than logging and directed the Samar
group to submit all data, statements regarding this issue as well
especially the two mining firms that were given permit by DENR to
mine the heartland of Samar.
If one were to
look at the map of Samar - you will see the remaining forests
declared as a protected area. Yet, you will also see that mining
companies were given permits to mine the area. And top of this,
logging has again been allowed by DENR to resume in Samar. And the
heart of the matter is that the area of contention are where our
remaining old growth forests are, where logging and mining are
absolutely prohibited even under existing rules and regulations of
Reyes called for the withdrawal of the confirmation of Mike Defensor
as the DENR Secretary for his ignorance and incompetence. Atty. Ron
Gutierrez contested the order lifting the logging moratorium saying
that it did not even go through the process of consultations with
the people of Samar island. And to this day, the DENR has not yet
served notice to any of the stakeholders in Samar and has not yet
replied to the requests of the Bishops for copies of the documents.
questioned the Senator committee (Committee on Cultural Minorities)
when it was supposed to investigate only the displacement of the
Manobos in Northern Samar and the way the hearing was going on, it
already expanded its probe to the destructive effects of logging and
mining in the whole Samar island. He was chided by the Senators who
said, they have all the authority to expand the investigation. He
was actually chided many times and was restrained from rebutting
every statement that was not "good to his ears".
pinned RED Sibbaluca for his personal sentiment of the issue. Sen.
Lim asked him "Do you concur with the decision of Sec. Defensor,
given the strong opposition from Samarenos?". Sibbaluca could not
answer categorically. All if he could say was 'If done properly,
SJTC can be allowed to log". I think Senator Osmeña, Pimentel and
Lim were piqued at his answer "If done properly", which we all know
does not happen.
many exciting exchanges and the next hearings would be more
Madrigal remarked at the end of the hearing as she directed the
attendance of Sec. Defensor and other high-ranking officials in the
next hearing. This Defensor is too powerful, next to God. He
controls the air we breathe, the water we drink, the places we live.
learned yesterday that Fr. Boy Opalalic is leaving for the US and we
are on the same flight pa on Dec. 12. I suggested to him that we can
hold a forum in San Francisco on the issue. He will be in be in San
Francisco on Jan. 5 and will leave the following day. Will you help
us organize this forum so we can unite and we can present a more
united Samareños not only in Samar island but across the world!
Please keep in