By JESUS FREDDY M. BALDOS of the Leyte Samar Daily Express
Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, VSU President and a pure Baybayanon, takes the lead in passing a signature campaign among residents, employees, and students of the Visayas State University against the Exploration Permit Application (EXPA-000120-VIII) to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Region 8 (DENR-8) filed by the Strong Built (Mining) Development Corporation based in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
The signature campaign was passed on to the different offices, classrooms, and residences inside the campus on June 18, 2010 soliciting signatures that would serve as an evidence for VSU’s strong opposition to the said mining exploration.
The resolution spearheaded by Dr. Bacusmo informed the VSU constituents and the surrounding barangays of the City of Baybay on the serious negative consequences to the environment, lives and livelihood of the people.
As an environment advocate, VSU is actively involved in projects and programs for the protection of the environment. The President reiterated that the University has been opposing all activities towards the destruction of the environment, especially if said activities will result to destruction of vital watershed.
Dr. Bacusmo further expressed that VSU is fully aware that exploration is the first step to mining and that the Leyte Cordillera, which covers Mt. Pangasugan, is an environmentally critical area being situated on a fault line, steep mountainous terrain, and prone to landslide and flash flooding.
The VSU President revealed that the University is greatly affected considering that it is situated between the foot of the mountain where the last remaining forest in Leyte is being preserved and the Camotes Sea. “Any disturbance in the mountains will negatively impact the coastal areas including the University Campus,” Dr. Bacusmo emphasized. The President also revealed that if this exploration would succeed, it would greatly affect the remaining forest’s critical biodiversity areas which are homes to many endangered and endemic species (i.e., Philippine deer, wild pig, flying lemur, tarsier, flying fox, flying squirrel, bat species, flora and fauna) and many more which are yet to be identified and named.
He further said that siltation and toxic pollution due to heavy metal run-off will destroy the fish stocks and coral reefs and will negatively affect the livelihood of fishermen in the entire coastal area. He added that pollution of fish and shellfish with toxic metals is known to be passed on to humans upon consumption.
Most importantly, the forested mountains of Baybay are important watersheds providing domestic water supply to VSU, nearby barangays of the City of Baybay, as well as irrigation to all the barangays in the locality. Destruction of the forest will cause heavy soil erosion which will result to floods in the area and damage to irrigation and rice fields leading to loss of livelihood of farmers and possible damage to property and threats to life.
The above premises triggered the VSU President to spearhead a resolution expressing strong opposition to EXPA-000120-VIII.