September 19, 2019
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte thinks the Pasig River rehabilitation body should be dissolved and the task of cleaning up the river be given to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). He noted that the Pasig River has been the garbage dump of Metro Manila for decades. The proposal makes sense. How can the DENR clean up Manila Bay if the Pasig River continuously dumps trash into the bay?
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In asking for Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade’s exit, I can only conclude that Sen. Mary Grace Poe wants to “build, build, build” the traffic in Metro Manila.
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The new Bureau of Correction (BuCor) chief is former jail warden Gerald Bantag. With 10 counts of murder pending against him, he need not walk far when or if convicted.
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President Duterte has offered a P1-million bounty for those freed under the Good Conduct and Time Allowance Law. Too much expense caused by the action of a former BuCor chief.
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After weeks of surveillance, the Bureau of Immigration arrested 324 aliens in Palawan. They were reported to be working inside hotels after complaints were filed by local officials and concerned citizens. I just don’t know if those “Men in Black” were properly alerted about such a huge number of aliens in just one province.
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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is against the planned divorce law. They quoted Section 2, Article 15 of the Constitution, stating that “marriage, an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.” Furthermore, they also said marriage should be protected from state interference.
I think they are not favoring legal separation — that of the separation of Church and State.
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The world is now on edge after Saudi Aramco’s facilities were hit by bombs from low-flying cruise missiles that disrupted half of the kingdom’s oil capacity. The disruption, according to experts, affected 5 percent of the total world supply.
Local fuel distributors have assured the public that there is enough supply to keep us going. The question is up to when. The more important one is whether we can afford it.
It is very noticeable that our local pumps raised the prices just two days after the Saudi bombing. It makes one wonder if their previous stockpile bought a cheaper price was “magically” depleted in just a couple of days. We just love being taken for a ride.
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I received a letter from Minister Sérgio Taam, chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Brazil, about my column “Fire and Rain in the Amazon (The Manila Times, Sept. 5, 2019).” He wanted to clarify the environmental policies of Brazil for our readers. Here are some excerpts of the letter:
“Brazil’s protected areas amount to more than 30 percent of its territory, or 2.5 million square kilometers, the 10th largest country in the world. Half of this area is located in the Amazon which, because of the exuberance of its rainforest, draws most of the international attention.
“Our country has one of the most advanced forest laws in the world. It imposes unparalleled conservation requirements on farmers and ranchers in the Amazon, where landowners must preserve at least 80 percent of the original vegetation in their property. Moreover, the Brazilian government and private companies have worked together to reconcile economic activity and conservation, in initiatives such as the soy moratorium (major soybean traders agreed not to purchase soy grown on lands deforested after July 2006 in the Brazilian Amazon) and the terms of adjustment of conduct for the beef supply-chain.
“The Brazilian government remains unwavering in its commitment to combat deforestation, with a combination of legislation, policies, monitoring, enforcement and other actions. In fact, Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 72 percent in the last 15 years. Moreover, we have regenerated in the Amazon alone 9.4 million hectares of vegetation and replanted forests in another two million hectares.
“I would also like to clarify that being a World Heritage Site as declared by Unesco does not mean the Amazon is ‘owned by the world.’ The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage states clearly that it fully respects the sovereignty of the States on whose territory the cultural and natural heritage is situated, and it will not influence property rights provided by national legislation.
“Should any further information be needed, please do not hesitate to contact me or my team in the Embassy of Brazil.”
Allow me, Mr. Minister Sérgio Taam, to clarify what I said. We appreciate your effort to give us the descriptive data on what the Brazilian government is currently doing regarding the issues confronting the Amazon. I was not referring to territorial context when I said “it is owned by the world.” Being concerned is about a unified “love” of wondrous Amazon and other United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) sites such as Machu Picchiu or Egypt’s pyramids. Awareness of the Amazon’s legendary ecosystem is a tight embrace of what steps to take in making our planet survive the deterioration of our treasures as caused by human carelessness. It may look to you as “intervention” but how I wish that it could also be seen as a wake-up call to all global communities to listen hard and join hands in correcting our mistakes.
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Good work, good deeds and good faith to all.
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