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MY TURN | Manila Bay Savior – Part 2

SINCE we became a republic in 1946, we have had 12 Presidents,namely, Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal, Marcos, Cory Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Noynoy Aquino and Duterte.

Since 1946 up to 2018, Manila Bay’s health was taken for granted despite the pollution, health, and environmental ordinances of Pasay,Manila and other cities,and the national government pollution laws. Since the 70’s, world environment, health and pollution experts have proclaimed Manila Bay as the world’s biggest, dirtiest toilet bowl, UP Law professor Antonio Oposa by Asia’s leading environmental lawyer.Bothered by the bay’s decaying, dying state, he asked his UP Law students if they will join him in an environment pollution case he will file to force the government to clean the Bay. Many, including my daughter, Fatima, did so. They won in the Cavite Regional Trial Court.

In 2008, the Supreme Court rendered a decision saying the Cavite RTC is correct and ordering the national government and the Metro Manila cities to stop the pollution and to clean up the Bay. Pres. Arroyo, president from 2002 to 2010, and President Noynoy Aquino, president from 2010 to 2016, did nothing to enforce the 2008 Supreme Court decision.

President Duterte appointed Gina Lopez as Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Eyebrows were raised. Gina belongs to the Lopez family which owns ABS-CBN. (In the 2016 presidential election, Duterte bought ABS-CBN radio and TV air time to plug his campaign ads and paid in advance. ABS-CBN did not show Duterte’s ads and did not even bother to apologize or return the airtime money.) But Duterte’s hunch was correct. For the first time in our history, a lady cabinet secretary, Gina Lopez, shut down all open pit strip mining. The trees, plants, animals, birds, waters and the indigenous tribes finally had a chance to thrive. The DENR secretary also strongly recommended to Duterte to close the nation’s number one tourist area, Boracay, and to execute the 2008 Supreme Court decision ordering the national and local governments to stop polluting and to clean up Manila Bay once.

In 2018, Duterte closed Boracay and ordered the government, both local and national, to stop polluting Manila Bay and clean it up. Three factors made this unbelievable miracle. First Gina Lopez, Second, Duterte did not get personal the meaning of taipans, tourism barons and zaibatsus a single centavo during the 2016 presidential election. Third, Duterte’s protection of Davao City when he was the mayor is legendary. Davao City stopped putting up to 2 big memorial parks in Baliok, Toril which is part of the city’s aquifer/water source. The city did not give one of the top 5 Philippine zaibatsus mining exploration permits for his 2 mining corporations. They were planning to carve up, devour and ravage the forests, flora and fauna of Paquibato to gouge billions of dollars worth of gold, copper, nickel and silver.

Duterte’s decision to stop future Manila Bay reclamation is brilliant. The proposed reclamation projects in Metro Manila and Cavite will change the tidal flows inside the Bay. The tides will not pass through the existing currents if the big proposed reclamation projects (about 12,000 hectares) block its natural flows. Since it will find a way to go in and out of Manila Bay, it might enter the low lying farm and lands in Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga etc. The salt will poison the lands and kill all plants. Our rice production will go down. Rice prices will go up. Rice importation will make our dollar reserves go down. Factories, importers of oil, medicine, industrial materials (plastic, electronics, steel, copper) will buy scarce dollars at higher peso prices. These importers, manufacturers in turn increase the prices of our daily needs (medicine, oil etc) The super inflation rate might mean closing of businesses, laying off workers. The bottom line-90 million of the 100 million Pilipinos will get hungry and sick. Food and medicine prices go up. Think Les Miserables.

The 17th French and 1917 Russian revolutions were caused by hunger which led to anger and desperation. Duerte has deflected this possible, social unrest. Salamat po, Mr. President for everything. Ato ni bay! Dabaw kini!

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