MINDFULLY GREENIE

Will P Noy listen?

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Today, roads, ferries and planes lead to Bohol province and Malacañang. The twin flyover projects eagerly pushed by the daughter-father Del Mar tandem is in the agenda of the Regional Development Council (RDC) meeting in Bohol and in President Benigno Aquino III’s consultation with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Rep. Cutie del Mar in Malacañang.

Fresh from his administration’s widely-supported clash with the Arroyos and the Supreme Court, President Aquino is again urgently needed to resolve an impasse. It is another challenge for him, considering that influential politicians in or supportive of his political party are involved. But his Matuwid na Daan and open governance philosophy should pave the way to the longed-for peaceful, just and sustainable solution.

For the affected constituents, this issue is beyond the Del Mar-Osmeña vs. Rama skirmish. We have more than enough dose of our politicians’ childish bickering, which has created an atmosphere of instability and uncertainty in Cebu.

This raging storm is about the people’s right to craft and move towards a sustainable future, one that protects life, its elements and our heritage amid the grave global climate and financial crises that we have to surmount.

The flyover projects epitomize the wang-wang mentality that dominated the minds of political authorities for decades. Laws were mere reminders. National and local government projects that impact on our health, safety, environment and climate change were implemented divorced from people’s participation and bereft of  transparency and accountability. There was rarely a public discussion on the projects’ impact on the land, air and water that sustain life, our cultural heritage, the lives and livelihood of people and the future generations, despite the clear requirements of our Constitution and the laws.

It is undisputed that Department of Public Works and Highways and RDC approved the flyover projects without consultation with the stakeholders and coordination with affected local government and its agencies like the City Traffic Management Team. This is contrary to sections 2c, 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code. This reality is in fact validated by the Report of the Technical Working Group commissioned by the RDC, which its IDC wants to junk. Why? Truth is scary, gentlemen?

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources likewise bypassed the people and obviously did not consider environment, climate change and heritage when it issued the Environmental Compliance Certificate for the projects. Worse, it violated the rights of the people to access the Environmental Impact Statement and other pertinent documents when the agency turned down the request, for a copy, of Mr. Joel Lee of the Movement for Livable Cebu. Why is the agency afraid to disclose the contents to the citizens?

Cebu City has competent heritage, transportation and urban planning experts whose skills are not harnessed nor listened to by the proponents. Why?

How is it possible that a big-ticket item such as the P600-million flyover project that will definitely not resolve traffic woes, will deface the heritage-rich landscape and contribute to air pollution, carbon emission and aggravate climate change, merited the support of Cebu City’s Sanggunian Panlungsod (SP)? The legislative body has not even crafted an ordinance to update the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, despite Interior and Local Government Circular dated Oct. 12, 2010 which required LGUs to do so and mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation to its plans. The SP action should have been a call for flyover moratorium.

Until now, the request of Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc. for the SP to conduct a public hearing on the flyover project  has not been responded to. Why?

Our public officials should listen to the voices of the stakeholders, especially the youth. An ardent Road Revolution advocate, Nicole Ring, has this to say: “Favor people, instead of motor vehicles. It is time to take a stand and push for a more reliable, convenient and safe road system for Cebu.”

The President is aware that this issue will test his commitment to mainstream inclusive, transparent and accountable governance under the Rule of Law. These cornerstones of good governance, climate change and the restoration of ecological integrity are repeatedly integrated in the various provisions of the Medium Term Development Plan of the Philippines (MTDP (2011-2016) and in numerous pronouncements, policies and memorandum circulars that offices of the President, DPWH and DILG issued.

National Economic Development Authority Secretary General Cayetano Paderanga said that the MTDP “translates the President’s social contract with the Filipino people and is the strategic framework for the country’s development.” The Social Contract envisions “a country with an organized and widely shared rapid expansion of our economy through a government dedicated to honing and mobilizing our people’s skills and energies, as well as the responsible harnessing of our natural resources.”(http://www.mb.com.ph/node/ 297335/govt-unveil)

Will P-Noy’s decision align with the visions, principles, undertakings and parameters espoused by the MTDP, his Social Contract with Filipinos? We definitely hope so.

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Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Program at UC: Lawyers and interested stakeholders are invited to participate in University of Cebu’s 10th Offering of its MCLE Program. It will be held at the Audio Visual Room-2 UC Banilad Campus, Banilad, Cebu City from Dec. 2 to Dec. 3 and Dec. 9 to Dec. 10 on the theme “Health, Justice and Sustainability in a Climate-Challenged Era.”

Resource speakers from the public sector are Court of Appeals Justice Gabriel Ingles, Presidential Communications Operations Office and MTRCB vice Chair Lesley Cordero, Commissioner Julie Rendoque, Cebu City Councilor Nida Cabrera, Provincial Prosecutor Jane Petralba and Nelia Lagura-Prieto of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

From the private sector and civil society, the speakers are Dr. Visitacion Antonio, lawyers Deborah Sy, Reynoso Belarmino, Manuel Monzon, Benjamin Cabrido, Dante Ramos, Rose Liza Osorio, Josh Carol Ventura, Cheryl Cabutihan, Orville de la Cerna and Gloria Estenzo Ramos. For reservations, please call UC MCLE Secretariat, through Annie (phone no. 032-505-4978) and Susie (032-420-7400) or email ucmcle@gmail.com or tau.ucmcle@gmail.com.

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