Unenforced Laws

I am again working with the Catholic Church but they seem as reluctant as the local government authorities to tackle the problem of the use of open fires. A society's best intentions are encoded in its laws. Here in the Philippines, as in Santa Barbara, the local authorities seem reluctant to do their jobs when it involves upsetting the very people protected by the laws. The citizens of Santa Barbara created by initiative a law outlawing leaf blowers but it has never been enforced in a meaningful way although the fire department and medical professionals frequently warn of the dangers of using leaf blowers. Here in the Philippines there are many laws not enforced by the police. Almost every municipality has a law either outlawing or requiring a permit for fires and nearly every place is included in a municipality. These laws were created to protect the public but burning everything is just so simple compared with separating, shredding and composting. Because I am a volunteer and cannot be fired I am taking a stand here in the foothills of the Sierra Madre of Luzon. Here is the correspondence. Please open the links I have included.

Best wishes in transition, Rowland Lane Anderson for Veterans For Peace

correspondence to foundation managers:

Hi Father Schmitt and Brother Jhong,

In my last email I neglected to mention that I would be pleased once I have planted the hedgerows of madre de cacao (I mis-stated as madre de agua in my last) on the property I will gladly work in the nursury. Also I have included reference links in this one:

Please keep in mind that I am retired from a long career as a government worker and union representative and that I am a volunteer and am not asking for pay, in fact am paying my own way most of the time. This is to say that I may not undertake all of the efforts that you have outlined and I have my own priorities so think carefully as maybe you don't want me. I have planted a contour of the property with madre de cacao ( ) but today while I was planting another large fire burned on the boundary of your property. It was the third fire in three days. The first was along the road and it burned into your property, it was really out of control for awhile. Today's fire appeared to be on the property, just below the path that we have used but before the wall.

When the provincial agriculturist came with two experts, they all agreed that burning organic matter is a bad idea and does nothing good to the soil, air or vegetation. Unfortunately they took the cowardly path of "well, what can we do about it??". Begin to educate I would say and use your influence to get the information out there. A quick agrochemistry lesson.....when organic matter is burned the nutrients except for carbon go into the air as well as much of the carbon in the form of CO2, a greenhouse gas. In addition the heat sterilizes the soil of the billions of organisms near the surface. Now I have started a compost pile at the property and EVERYONE agrees that is the sustainable way to dispose of organic matter. Other ways are biochar/agrichar but you need to have equipment for that....Father Ben has a good piece of equipment in mind.

One of my government jobs was as a fire prevention technician for the US Forest Service. We watched carefully for fire dangers when the vegetation was drying out and it was hot and windy....exactly the conditions at the property! So when I saw the fire on our property today I quit work and went to the fire department in Baras and talked to them. They said it is illegal to build a fire in our area without a permit from them! They asked a lot of questions which I answered and told me to report anyone building a fire there. I will do so! Also I am going to the Mayor's office Monday, hope he is there, and get a copy of the municipal ordinance that makes it illegal to build a fire in or around Pawpawan without a permit and I will copy it many times and distribute it to our area, maybe posting it at the chapel and store. I will also meet with the fire chief and get his number so I can immediately report anyone in our area that is starting a fire. You may remember that fires in Indonesia started by farmers burned millions of acres of forests and created a global climate disaster just a few years ago ( ) The small farmers are not aware of the dangers of old methods in an era of climate chaos.

Father Schmitt, I have come back to Antipolo and at the offices (thats why you are getting an email) because you said you wanted to meet Monday. I think we will have to meet midday or later as your staff may not arrive from Mindoro until then. If you do not want me to report fires in your area or distribute the ordinance, there are two possibilities. Either I can move on to another effort or you can ask Brother Jhong to distribute the ordinance and give our workers strict guidelines for organic materials on our property (I will still report the fires though).

I will be at the Antipolo offices until I return to the property with Brother Jhong, probably late Monday or early Tuesday. If the fire problem is taken care of I will continue to dedicate myself to composting and hedgerows of madre de cacao with a long term vision of food terraces and water impoundment, and will continue to research indigenous trees for us. The rest of the tasks may have to be done by salaried or paid help. I would not use lime but only composting and madre de cacao to balance the soil. Also I think the Client Center of the Bureau of Soil and Water has a sufficient lab and an excellent display of small water impoundment. I can see no need for a greenhouse, it would probably burn down soon anyway!

Best wishes and God Bless, Lane

--- On Tue, 4/24/12, Leo Schmitt wrote:

From: Leo Schmitt Subject: Thank you To: "'Lane Anderson'" Cc: Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 9:57 PM

April 25, 2012

Dear Lane:

Thank you very much for your latest report. I see you are very busy on many fronts. I hope we could soon concentrate on:

  1. Determine how we can realize our vision and mission: to make a contribution on reforestation and food production that helps the poor.
  2. Allocate the areas for these goals.
  3. Prepare the soil, i.e. purchase lime and study how best to apply it.
  4. Study carefully on how we can prepare: pathways.
  5. Prepare ways of maximizing the flow, storage of water.
  6. Prepare a list of trees, plants and find the best location for planting.
  7. Prepare the use of land and plants in such a way, that the running expenses can covered from th fruitis of our labor withing sic to ten months.
  8. Study the use of and benefits of a greenhouse.
  9. Study the use of a lab to improve the quality of work and output.
  10. Acquire and nurture plants and seedling for all kinds of trees to be chosen for planting by May 10.

Again thank you Lane and God bless!


Fr. Leo.

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