BizNews Asia/December 13 – December 20, 2004

Edong Angara Wants A Total Log Ban and Defines His Legacy
By Antonio S. Lopez

Edong AngaraOn Dec. 27, 1735, the town of Baler, Aurora was inundated by an earthquake-induced massive tidal wave, wiping out its entire population except for five families – Lumasac, Bitong, Carrasco, Poblete, Bijasa and Angara. Three of the families move out of Baler, leaving two, the Lumasacs and the Angaras in the town which was relocated two kilometers inland.

In late November and early December 2004, Aurora province was again devastated by massive flooding and more than thousand perished. This time, the disaster struck the towns of Dingalan, Generel Nakar, Real and Infanta. Not Baler. Yet, the Angara family was accused of logging, which was blamed for the overwhelming floodwaters.

Retorted Senator Edgardo Angara: “Our family has never been and will never get involved in logging operations, whether legal or illegal. We have no reason to destroy Aurora because we are there for the long pull. We have a stake in the province. We have been there for centuries.”

Claiming the stake for the future and looking beyond the present is a remarkable quality of Edgardo Angara. The senator has been for a total log ban. In 1991, when the great debate over logging was raging in the Senate, he was one of the senators who voted for a total log ban. When the vote was again taken in 1993, Angara again voted for a total ban. “My public record has been a consistent one, a pro-environment against logging,” he declares.

Angara took the pains to trace the origin of the media reports that his family was into illegal logging. It came from a certain Fr. Edwin, who was quoted as saying that the beneficiaries of logging in Aurora are the Angaras. The senator checked with the priest. Fr. Edwin wrote Angara to deny having linked the senator and his clan to illegal logging companies in the province. Unfortunately, the communist guerilla leader Ka Roger spread the canard claiming he got the information from Fr. Edwin.

For the long term, Senator Angara proposes four solutions: one, a total logging ban on the remaining virgin forests of the country (about 900,000 hectares and diminishing); two, a review of industrial plantation schemes so that these should be conducted only on denuded forest; three, employ cultural communities to protect forests from illegal loggers; and four, import wood for the use of the local furniture industry. Explains Angara; “With that kind of comprehensive program, then we address the question of denudation, we address the question of reforestation, we address immediately the requirements and need for wood for our local industries.”

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