Mar, Junjun and those tree activists

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

STRANGE things are happening in the neighborhood.

First, there’s Mar Roxas, PNoy’s 2010 running mate and presumed 2016 heir apparent suggesting that the President seek another term when the current one ends two years hence.

Then, there’s that furor that netizens whipped up over Gov. Junjun Davide’s P100 pabaon to a Cebuano youngster who was competing in the finals of a singing contest in Manila.


Finally, we had at least two “tree activists” tying themselves to the upper trunk of a decaying acacia, one of those that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) cleared for cutting down.

Stranger still, the DENR retreated, tail limply hanging between its legs.

Roxas is an economist, not a lawyer but he has a plethora of attorneys at his beck and call. Aside from that, he is presumed to know the Constitution to which he has sworn fealty countless of times in his life as a public official. That Constitution says a president can serve for only one term and for good reason. The Republic is too big for only one person.

Roxas proposes that the Constitution be amended to accommodate his plan. Coming from someone who ought to be raring to face the person whom he accused of robbing him of the vice presidency, the move is inexplicable.

No matter how you look at it, the picture you see is that of someone trying to hide behind the President’s pants. Say that it’s not so, Mar. Say that you’re not scared of Jejomar Binay and his lofty survey ratings.

On the other hand, the thing about Davide’s supposedly paltry contribution illustrates how immature the non-traditional media can be.

One comment from a child thanking the governor on television for giving him P100 and Facebook and Twitter go on an attack-Davide frenzy for being miserly with the boy. Poor Junjun had to explain that the P100 was the last money he had in his wallet and besides, the boy’s grandmother did not tell him that they were going to Manila to compete.

Holy cow! Why should it be a public official’s obligation to go KBL, meaning pay for someone’s kasal, bunyag lubong? And what right have we to fix a rate which another must meet in order to qualify for our brand of generosity?

Davide fished the P100 bill from his own wallet. It was his own money; by his account, the last in his pocket at that time. Would his critics have been happier if he had stolen from the government and given P1,000 to the boy and to everyone who looks at him as Santa Claus and mother of perpetual help combined?

And now about the trees, as early as in October, last year, the DENR identified some acacia trees along the national highway to the south as hopelessly diseased and could fall down anytime. Plans were made to cut down the trees to save the public from harm and to give way to the expansion of the highway.

The activists, however, protested because the trees were a) part of our heritage, b} good to the environment, and c) healthy and in no danger of falling down soon. The DENR and the Department of Public Highways apparently took their word and backtracked.

Then this year, two other trees toppled down one after the other. One fell on a cargo truck while the other crashed on a house. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt in either incident although they rendered the highway impassable for more than seven hours.

The activists were noticeably silent when the trees fell. Then the DENR, DPWH and the local governments of Naga, San Fernando and Carcar agreed to cut down the remainder of the trees that were believed to be dying and presto, howls of protest were heard again.

When one or more of those trees collapses from old age, will they disappear from public view once again?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 10, 2014.


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