Mainit, Maligcong address issue on massive tree cutting

#peace and conflict article


The centuries-old rice terraces of Maligcong are part of the invaluable cultural and historical heritage of the Indigenous people of Maligcong. Theses terraces which were built by our ancestors rely on critical watersheds from the potential degradation that will result from mining activities in the neighboring village, Mainit.- William Todcor

While the benefits from gold mining are fully acknowledged by villagers, and as barangay officials maintain that there are no major environmental problems caused by mining. Nearby village, such as Maligcong opposed to the mining activities being done in Mainit.

One of the water source of the rice terraces of the i-Maligcong are coming from Mt. Chomanegcheg a disputed area between the two barangays. Due to the massive tree cutting in the area, Maligcong people are now alarmed, since the mountain is where the water source of their rice fields is coming from.

“The mere fact that hudreds to thousands of trees are illegally being cut for small-scale operations without permits should warrant appropriate actions from all agencies like the DENR, MGB, NCIP, PNP, and environmentalist,” said a resident of Maligcong, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Recently the barangay of Maligcong prepared a petition early in February 2015, asking government agencies to protect their village’s watershed that are threatened by mining activities in Mainit. Mayor Franklin Odsey noted that water from the forests of Chomanegcheg flows through Maligcong and Mainit.

Also a  family in Mainit filed a legal complaint noted that the activities of small-scale miners was illegal and it if left unchecked, would lead to the denudation of the Mainit forests due to the cutting of trees to supply the timber needs of the tunnels.

Although barangay officials further explained that in the Igorot practice, individual are allowed to cut the trees planted to be used in the construction of family homes and rice granaries. Provided that seedlings are to be planted, for the benefit of next generation.

However, a resident of California who traces his childhood to Mainit shared his opposition against mining operations, He explained that it is disheartening to be going home one day only to find out that the so-called communal mountain (ramoran in local dialect)  is already claimed and developed by moneyed and influential person .

In a joint resolution of the barangay officials of Mainit and Maligcong during their meeting last August 5, 2015, in the presence of Bontoc Councilor Herman Farnican, the officials stated that people who are currently residing in both barangays are continuing their ancestor’s legacy, since time immemorial, of responsible stewardship over respective natural resources even when pressured by corporate entities.

“This is why both our barangays have tirelessly opposed the countless bids of multinational corporations to exploit our mineral, forest, and other resources. We maintain that our resources, when we use them, are for the benefit of all people in our respective communities, keeping in mind the heritage of our future children and not of corporate interest,” officials of both barangay stated.

Both barangays agreed to conduct a joint tree planting at the site. It was agreed that 1,000 pine and Kopang seedling shall be planted and both barangay shall exercise joint stewardship over the growth of that they will plant.Also, the Bontoc Provincila team is currently studying the application of the Philippine Small Scale Mining Act of 1991 and related laws in the province. #Grazilla P. Manengyao

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