The Grim Prospect of Exploiting
Ligwasan Marsh and Tampakan
By Apolinario Villalobos
Ligwasan Marsh is touted to be very rich in mineral deposits and natural gas, even deuterium. But then, since time immemorial, the marshland has been home to indigenous freshwater fishes of Mindanao…their breeding area, to put it straight. It also offers relief to flooded areas in central Mindanao by serving as some sort of catch basin. If it gets exploited and got drained of its resources, the simplistic conclusion would be: even the lowly tilapia and mudfish would be procured in Bulacan and Batangas in Luzon! How can fish and fresh water plants survive the pollution from chemicals and eventual disturbance from drilling equipments?
If ever fish farms would be establish by entrepreneurs for the breeding to sustain the supply of indigenous freshwater fish for local consumption, the choking effect to the consumers will be the same as prices would be dictated not only by big fish farmers but also, by the middlemen. Eventually, high-tech foreign fish farmers would trek into the Promised Land and form corporate conglomerate with local partners…a sure ball for the creation of “cartel” So, we go back again to the issues of “unequal opportunity”, unfair labor practices of foreign employers, etc. At the end, who reaps the “blessings”?….of course, foreign investors who send back their earnings to their country. Meanwhile, polluted water flows to rivers and streams down to the coastal waters of Mindanao…gain for our long-ranged devastation.
On the Tampakan Open-pit mining project, aside from the pollution of water resources and soil, farmers shall be displaced from their farms. A B’laan family has been massacred for fighting the aggression on their ancestral domain. Definitely, not only will the displaced tribal families suffer from the consequences that will result to pollution but also those who live on the plains and who depend on the river system for the irrigation of their farms and water supply for their livestock and homes.
The crucial choice now is between the direct benefits that financiers shall reap and the uncertain benefits for the communities due to corrupt practices. Another choice is between the 15-20 years short-term employment benefits and the perpetual damage to the land that shall affect generations to come.