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PREVENTING THE SAN JOSE TIMBER CORPORATION FROM OPERATING AGAIN

By SHIELA TAGABAN ZANGL
December 16, 2005


-----Original Message-----
From: Shiela Zangl <shiel62de2001@yahoo.com>
To: Cesar Torres <cesar1185@aol.com>; Cesar <ceasar1185@aol.com>
Sent: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 15:38:02 -0800 (PST)
Germany, 14.12.2005

Dear Professor Torres,

You don't know me, but I hope you will understand that I am prompted to send this email because of the urgency we all feel in doing something to stop the reopening of San Jose Timber Corporation. I am from Northern Samar but living in Germany for 20 years now. I came across samarnews.com, then talsik, on Oct. 30, this year. It was just lately that I saw Gugma han Samar. I read your articles. You are a loyal Samar-sohn. You have my trust and hope that you could lead and consolidate all the forces that are aimed in the preservation of the Samar rain forest.

It is still not very sure if the operation of San Jose Timber Corporation will be stopped.

Professor Torres, how about suggesting the continuation of the petition with as many signatories as possible, to be gathered hand-written and online, similar to the one written to get the Balangiga bells back. The petition should demand the stop of San Jose Timber Corporation and other logging companies in Samar, better still, demanding something written from the government, declaring the rainforest of Samar as a national reserve to be protected and that no body now or later can apply for a concession or whatsoever. The petition should be addressed to the President of the Philippines, the members of Congress, with copies for the governors of the different provinces of the Philippines especially the three provinces of Samar, also to prominent national and international non-governmental organizations fighting for the preservation of the environment and natural resources, to relevant institutions worldwide, also to those in the United Nations and the European Union, and perhaps also the chairman of the green political party of Germany, etc. etc.  

The petition should also be published in the leading newspapers and magazines of the country and the leading international newspapers. Also in alternative newspapers like the bulatlat online newspaper. We have to shoot in different directions to reach results.

Let's us do all we can and all we think we can't to prevent this company and other logging companies from operating and to preserve the rainforest of Samar. It is just so shameless and painful for a native of Samar like us, that these rich, foreigner to Samar and corrupt people just decide all by themselves what to do with the very life support system that the Samarnons has. And we will just helplessly watch there and let us be raped? And after that, be left behind to pick up the debris? Just because Enrile claims that his permit is legal? And who made it legal? Of course his co-elites. So, what could be done to make his legal permit be declared illegal? In Palapag, Northern Samar - my hometown - the logging company PACWII (I think, it means Philippine Associated Companies of Wood Industries Incorporated), and George logging limited, operated there until the late 1980's or early 1990's. George logging had a sawmill there before; logs from Butuan, Mindanao were cut there too. When this sawmill stopped its operations, the remaining sawdust attracted some insects/beetles which damaged the coconut trees of the neighboring area, affecting the livelihood of the people.

In Europe, especially here in Germany, people are very aware and sensitive to issues concerning the preservation of the environment. In Germany, it is not even allowed to urinate on a tree in their forest let alone cut it down. In their forest, there are placards getting the attention of the people to refrain from urinating on a tree. Anyone caught urinating on a tree is fined 50 Euro - equivalent to more than 300 pesos. To the government, urinating on a tree means subjecting the tree to over-fertilizing, which damages the tree in the long run.  It shows how important their forest are for them.

I don't want to think that the SJTC would operate again. Preventing its operation would be the best option. If it starts its operations, it would be very difficult to stop them. This is a huge opponent, because they have a powerful support group – the corrupt elite. And I think a lot of people of Samar have no substantial knowledge about the need to preserve the Samar forest. Another big percent of the people of Samar benefit in one way or another from the corrupt provincial governments, which supports of course the corrupt national government, so they will not rally to oppose Enrile and Defensor. And the big rest of the people of Samar are just too poor, too uninformed and too distracted with their day to day subsistence, that they are not in a position to think about the preservation of the Samar forest. Their thoughts are only enough, to think from where the next meal could come. Their silence, could be interpreted by Enrile, Defensor and their supporters as a willingness of these people to be raped by them. We don't know what would be the outcome. It would just be very simple if there are a lot of legislators who will draft a law to declare Enrile's permit illegal. Or a new president who will do the same. In the absence of these, it would be another means to oppose it if we start with a petition like the done demanding the Balangiga bells back. Through this, the opposition to the operation of SJTC would be very well-publicized. I think, most of the buyers of logging companies are from abroad, especially Japan and Europe; they could be warned if they would read the published news, it would catch their attention. People outside the Philippines, which would be the possible end consumer of the products from the logs would be made sensitive to these issues. I think the end-consumer of Europe are hesitant to buy products when they know that the production of it damages the environment. Through well-publicized articles, people of Samar, the Philippines and the world could be briefed again about the need to protect the environment. I think, that a lot of politicians in the Philippines don't realized the sorry state the Philippine environment has. Just look at the Pasig river! In the Philippines, we don't have the technology to clean our waste and our environment. In Germany, they separate their garbage into different recyclable and not. The garbage which can't be recycled anymore are burned in closed buildings or containers, and the smoke is filtered to prevent air pollution. They also filter their waste water, and the water is clean again. They use the residue as fertilizers. They have this "Kläranlage" (cleaning their waste water) even in a very small village. I don't know the technical terms about this. And also, after 20 years of speaking German (not always grammatically flawless), I'm lost with the English language.

I'm working full time and have children to attend to. So, I can't often write flawless letters or emails to send to TALSIK or Gugma han Samar which has a wider readers.  So, I'm writing you, knowing that you are the best avenue.

Sincerely,

Shiela Tagaban Zangl

--oOo--

Below is a link to the speech of a certain Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and my comments to it: http://www.samarnews.com/news2005/dec/f507.htm

My comments/opinions:

- We can't allow logging companies to operate, especially in Samar. Not only SJTC operated before for many years. They have already denuded the Samar forest. That's why the flooding, erosion, etc. The few trees that are still there now are only the remaining ones.

- They can't rationalize this through reforestation because, these trees existed thousand of years ago. They can never replace these trees. We would at the very least wait a few thousand years before a newly planted tree would grow to ever replace these trees now. And we know that the company don't do any tree-planting program. The forest rangers and the provincial authorities of DENR don't check and control this because they are on the payroll of the company.

- They would argue that this generates tax for the government. The taxes that they would pay to the government would only be the remaining coins from their perennial doctoring of their loadings, etc. And it could never cover even the half of the cost the government could incur in cleaning the mess that will eventually follow.  It can't cover to pay the families which are victims of the flooding.  And if ever there are rest coins-taxes, it will not benefit Samar because it would not be enough to fill the deep pockets of the corrupt politicians.

- They could argue that this is an employment opportunity to the people. No this is not. They hire skilled workers from Bicol or provinces bordering Manila, okay, they are Filipinos too. But, the Samareneos would only be helpers and unskilled low-paid workers. Their hand to mouth existence continues, and the risk to accidents and to sickness is very high with such a high-risk job. If they get sick, their salary will not be enough to pay. They are better-off without a job and employer like this. The PACWII, in Palapag N. Samar, before, had a lot of workers from places other than Samar. It is common to be rolled over by logs especially during the rainy season, when the roads are muddy and the trucks full of logs could not run smoothly. Who will support the remaining family members, if a father could be a victim? This company, deducted from the salaries of workers amounts to be paid to the SSS every month, but only to find out afterwards, that they remitted sporadically, only a few months, although the wages of the workers were always deducted for the contributions to SSS. So, this is not a stable employment opportunity.

- If SJTC would make it, other logging companies will follow.

- Allowing SJTC to log in Samar is tantamount to the Aesops fable killing the goose that lays the golden egg, instead of taking good care of the goose so that it will lay more golden eggs.

- Poverty could better be eliminated through enacting relevant laws like: elevating the positions of katulongs to household employees and not as household slaves and their salaries to the minimum wage. The majority of the people in the Philippines are poor. And these poor people have a lot of children working as katulongs. If their position and their salary would be elevated, they will have more money to support their family. If they should be treated (supported by a law) as household employees, the rich people will not look them down, it will empower them and boast their self-esteem. They would feel, they are like everybody else and they would strive for more in life. Also, obliging the employers of katulongs to let them attend population education courses and other helpful courses or vocational training. In this way, they would become responsible parents later, who might not have a lot of children if they can't afford it. Another relevant law, which will have a great impact to the lives of the poor is to declare the lending of money or goods with astronomic interest, illegal. Anybody caught doing it should be fined. At the same time, the government should provide a bank, where the very poor can borrow money without or with a very low interest payable in a manner that is affordable to them. Another relevant law, is to levy taxes to the incomes of OFW whose original families are well-off. Those OFW who has poor original families should be exempted from this tax. Also, to enact laws which will protect the rights of the OFW and their protection from the recruiters and employers, and demand the international community to endorse and support it. These are just a few examples. The point is, the elite and the middle class should take responsibility for the elevation of the poor Filipinos. The majority of our people are very poor. The children of these people comprise a huge part of the Philippine population. Imagine how will the Philippine society will look like after 20 years if the children of these people will not have a chance to better their lives. Their loss is a loss of us all. Imagine if our very poor people would be elevated to the middle class, by any miracle means. How will the Philippine society will look like? But of course, all the above examples are useless if the government is corrupt, they will always look for an excuse of the laws for the people they favor. So, the challenge first is to lessen or stop corruption.

There are all reasons to stop SJTC from operating, while there is not a single ground why we would let them rape the last paradise of the Visayas called Samar.

Lastly, I come across the following website: Please click on it. http://nologging.easternsamar.de/
http://www.easternsamar.de/index%20eng.htm
http://www.balita.ca/12_a_2005_08.htm

Correction is under your care. I didn't re-read this email. I just wanted that it would be read immediately.

Thank you very much for taking the time to it. 

Shiela Tagaban Zangl

 

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