The people are exposed to highly infectious diseases such as Covid-19 due to massive mining operations and other government policies that destroy the environment. This was the assertion of Panalipdan! Mindanao in their statement to mark the 50th Earth Day on April 22.
According to the group, the unprecedented denudation of forests result in the destruction of natural barriers to disasters and diseases, especially to those that are zoonotic (or transmitted from animals to humans) such as Covid-19.
On top of plunderous mining operations, the group noted that monocrop plantations, energy projects, large agricultural and poultry farms, and other forms of land-use conversion are also responsible for environmental destruction.
The global problems of denudation of forests and depletion of natural resources continue unabated in the Philippines. More than 60% of the country’s forests was denuded over the past century. Instead of addressing denudation, the government has further opened vast areas for land conversion into mining, dam and plantation concession areas.
Under the Duterte regime, a million hectares of forest and agricultural lands in Mindanao were designated as oil palm plantation areas. Dam projects under the Build, Build, Build program also endanger farmlands, forests and waterways.