Dubbed “Our River, Our Life,” (Orol) the campaign focuses on the two main river systems in Mindanao Island, the Agusan and the Rio Grande, which support and sustain the more than eight million inhabitants or a third of Mindanao population.
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A campaign on the protection and conservation of Mindanao rivers and biodiversity is gaining ground with children in focus.
“Ang kampanya usa ka pagtan-aw sa ecological child rights ilabi na sa mga komunidad nga nanimuyo daplin sa kasubaan (The campaign upholds ecological child rights especially those who are living in communities along the river systems),” said Rosalinda Latonio, Executive Director of Network towards the Empowerment, Transformation and Sustainability of Communities and Organizations (Netsco) during the program launching early this week.
Dubbed “Our River, Our Life,” (Orol) the campaign focuses on the two main river systems in Mindanao Island, the Agusan and the Rio Grande de Mindanao, which support and sustain the more than eight million inhabitants or a third of Mindanao population.
Netsco partners with the Terre des Hommes International Federation, a Switzerland-based institution that develops and implements projects designed to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged children.
“Bisan tuod nga kining kasubaan nahimong kabahin sa paglambo sa sibilisasyon apan dili tanang tawo naka-benepisyo niini (Eventhough these rivers were part of the civilization’s development, not all inhabitants have benefited on these),” said Roldan Gonzales, Orol’s campaign coordinator in the Philippines.
“The rivers of Agusan and Rio Grande have been serving as arteries for economic growth, but these public commons have been profusely bleeding not for the vast majority of the people but for the very few large-scale economic enterprises,” Ian Rivera, Orol’s campaign officer said in a statement.
In regions where these rivers carve their paths, particularly in Caraga, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City), poverty incidences are way above the country’s national average, the rates of child mortality are appallingly horrible and the cases of violation of children’s rights are alarming, Rivera added.
But the startling conditions of these two river systems also need careful attention, Gonzales warned.
The unabated logging and mining activities continue to destroy watersheds and natural waterways, including the pollution contributed by the indiscriminate use of toxics in big plantations of cash crops.
“Pollution is destroying the Agusan river system which is considered as one of the major sources of food and income of families there,” said Gener Asura, a youth leader from Agusan del Sur.
He added, cases of flooding also frequently displace families near the Agusan river.
Meanwhile, Abubakar, a youth leader from Maguindanao, said that floods in their area forced schools to temporarily close down for days. In these cases, he added, children’s education is greatly affected.
Abubaka blamed the continued illegal logging as the main reasons of the frequent flooding of Rio Grande de Mindanao.
As a strategy, Orol will work hand-in-hand with support groups and community-based peoples’ organizations in implementing programs and strategies to save these rivers from destruction and allow them to flow for all especially for those who have less.
“It is important to build solid alliances and networks among the affected communities that are greatly affected by the destruction of these river systems,” Juland Suazo of the environmental rights group Panalipdan said. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)