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Rough Cuts: We haven’t heard from the DENR-EMB

We are happy to note that Third District councilor Jess Zozobrado Jr. has taken time to assure city residents who are to be affected by the planned bypass road project that there will be proper consultations to be conducted by government agencies concerned.

We believe that Zozobrado is doing the right thing. As we have written in an earlier column we do not wish that such an important infrastructure project will meet the same fate that the proposed Mindanao Railway Project’s Tagum-Davao City-Digos Phase is facing.

While we believe that the bypass road will bring development to areas still categorized as rural, it would also be unfair to trample on the rights of people over properties they own without just compensation.

Thus, with Councilor Zozobrado’s commitment to bring together all stakeholders on the multi-billion infrastructure project every affected resident, be they individual or juridical, will have the opportunity to air their concerns and get straight from the proponents’ mouths what they can expect as just compensation out of the loss of their properties to the bypass road.

Councilor Jess is indeed the kind of public servant that people need to represent them in the local government’s policy making body.

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The evolving Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) now on its early weeks of transition from the defunct Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has lost one of its pillars. This after reports of the death of Vice Chair Gadzali Jaafar was confirmed by a ranking official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a national radio-television program interview.

Jaafar who was designated the Speaker of Parliament of the transition BARMM government was diagnosed by doctors to have kidney failure. But prior to the signing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by the President he was admitted at the St. Luke’s Hospital for heart illness.

With the death of Jaafar a void is created in the leadership of the MILF as well as in the just constituted BARMM transition government.

Of course we know that there is no dearth of capable leaders in the ranks of the MILF and the rest of the Moro citizenry. But vetting for Jaafar’s replacement must be very strict especially since the person who shall take his place in the BARMM Parliament needs to have the complete trust of the Bangsamoro people.

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What is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) doing in regards to the incident in two fresh water bodies in Carmen, Davao del Norte? It’s been almost a week since oil flowed into Ising and one other river in that Davao del Norte municipality from a reported leak in the boiler of a packaging company.

From newspaper, radio and television reports we read, heard and seen it is all the Philippine Coast Guard and the local government that are prominently mentioned as involved in addressing the incident that is potentially dangerous to the environment in that town. Already, farmers and bangus, crab and prawn raisers are already apprehensive of the possibility that the oil spill will adversely affect their livelihood.

Unfortunately  we  have yet to hear from the DENR-EMB as to its course of action on the incident. Will the agency investigate the company from whose plant emanated the leak? If as claimed by the plant management the oil came out of a leak in its boiler, is not the DENR-EMB suspicious that there was something wrong in the installation of the plant’s machineries? How come the leak flowed direct to the creeks and down to the rivers of Carmen instead of a large septic tank?

We believe the company may have missed out in installing safety measures to prevent problems of leaks from letting out oil or fuel and other toxic waste direct to bodies of water. The likelihood is that there may have been no religious scrutiny of the overall plan in the construction of the plant by concerned government agencies both at the national and local levels.

In other words, the authorities allowed a situation of “disaster-in-waiting” when they gave the go signal to the company owners to proceed with the construction without thorough plan scrutiny.

Well, the fire incident that gutted down a large mall at crossing Maa-MacArthur Highway some two years back is one that is close to mind that can be associated with the Carmen oil spill.

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