At a distance, they merely look like a typical cyclist enthusiasts group going for a routine bike around the city. However, upon closer inspection, they seem to carry words inked in black behind their backs. “Tama Na Nga Mina” (Enough Mining), “No To Ship Recycling”, “Obligayson sang PAMB Palpak” (The Protected Area Management Board has failed its obligation), “LGU wala panindugan” (The Local Government has no principles), “Kagulangan, protektahan. Dunang manggad, amligan. Para sa Patutro sang imo Kabataan” (Protect the Elderly. Save the Rich Resources. For the Children’s Future),”Coal Free Negros”.

Setting up shop in the Capitol Lagoon ardently facing the seat of the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, they are no mere ordinary cyclists, but cyclists with a cause— to uphold the environmental integrity of Negros Island and to stop all illegal activities within protected areas.

Participants took part in “Paglalamay” (funeral wake) to symbolize that the environment has died from the hands of the greedy, having their hair shaved and cut as a form of protest, and setting up a small coffin with flowers with the names of the Provincial Govt., PAMB, DENR, and LGUs on them.

Such was the event of Green Alert Negros last November 8, 2020, dubbed as “Panikad-Sikad 2020: Sikad para sa Dunang Manggad”. Passionate environmentalists, amidst a pandemic, convened at the city center (while following health guidelines, of course) to raise awareness that the climate crisis is real, and it’s high time to take it seriously and make “moral obligation” a lifestyle— like cycling. Artists were also present showcasing the beauty of the Northern Negros Forests, and held various live performances as well

They highlighted issues such as the road construction inside protected areas of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP), black sand mining in E.B. Magalona, and to be vigilant to maintain the Coal-Free Negros provision passed last March 2019. Their demands to the governmnt are to stop the illegal Silay-Patag-Cadiz-Calatrava road construction, conduct an investigation as to why the illegal project/structures were allowed in the first place, and improve collaboration between non-government, civil society, and people’s organizations towards environmental protection.

NNNP is our final frontier. There is no way that we should compromise it for the sake of our own comfort. Legalizing the Illegal Structures within the Northern Negros Natural Parks and Mt. Kanlaon Natural Parks, is the biggest show of arrogance of injustices of the privilege few and the powerful in Negros. PAMB is a total disappointment. You cannot correct a mistake with another mistake. I still believed with our Justice system and no one is above the law. The law is in our side and we have the moral obligation to defend what is declared protected by Law. Our legal actions will continue and we already have one legal case in the Ombudsman. We will be filling more cases until we will get justice.

Elmeer Calimpos of Green Alert Negros about the incompetence of the Department of Natural Resources in protecting the Northern Negros Natural Park.

Earlier this year, on October 15, a measly group of 11 protest climbers also aimed awareness to defend the Negros Forests at Sitio Campuwestohan, Talisay City, with their descent greeted by youth campaigners, environmental advocates, and journalists. Participants were also from Green Alert Network Negros Island Region and partner organizations, climbing to protest the ongoing illegal structures at the NNNP as well as the construction of the Silay-Patag-Cadiz-Calatrava Road.

Meanwhile, on December 13, 2020, the Sowing Legacy Movement, Inc., a youth empowerment group, conducted a tree growing activity within the NNNP dubbed “Legacy Trees”, aiming to inspire youngsters of the island to embrace nature and the pristine scenery of lush forests in Don Salvardor Benedicto, as well as to advocate for natural climate solutions to the climate crisis.

What is the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP)?

The largest watershed in the province that provides water for seventeen municipalities and cities. A source of critically endangered species of plants, animals, and flowers unique to the island. One of the last surviving lungs of forest in a country where 95% of woods have been decimated by extensive illegal logging. These are just some of the reasons why the NNNP is dear and vital to all those residing on the island.

DENR Legalizing Illegal Structures in NNNP

However, on October 8, 2020, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced that the illegal structures inside the NNNP will be legalized. Green Alert Negros, an environmental group in the island, states this is a violation of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act as the establishments were given unwarranted benefits and preference by failing to prosecute them. Here are just some of the illegal and environmentally destructive projects that have taken place in Negros Island in the past year:

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