“Mr. All Talk, No Action”
By Ermin Garcia Jr.
THE sun was out shining in Dagupan City for two days but like a curse, the city’s main streets and district area were still severely flooded.
But not one belonging to the city’s Flood Mitigation Commission, created in 2019, to craft a master plan to resolve the city’s flooding problem, has been heard from. The city’s information desk offered not a word of consolation from either the commission or from the mayor himself. Who was remiss in their tasks? Was it the city hall or the commission?
Recall that when Mayor Brian Lim, who made flooding in the city under the Belen Fernandez administration his main campaign issue for his candidacy, was installed, he created the commission and appointed himself as the head of it. He then introduced the members of the commission, namely: Engr. Joseph Lo, the vice chairman (representing the business sector); Engr. Liberato Afficial and Engr. Arnold Palmero as representatives of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers; architects Maximo Tan and Zosimo Ganaden of United Architects of the Philippines; Engr. Nancy Nazareno of the City Engineering Office; Zoning Officer James Louell Fernandez and Project Development Officer Jose Jesus Torio, both of the City Planning and Development Office; City Legal Officer Terence Marata; and lawyer Michael Camilo Datario, consultant at the City Legal Office.
After announcing the creation of the commission, Mr. Lim was quoted: “Gusto ko ring ipaalam sa ating mga kababayan na kailangan nating magkaroon ng leveling of expectations dahil itong baha ay maraming causes. Ang reyalidad, hindi mareresolba ng isang araw or even one or two years. Pero ako ay naniniwala na kaya nating bawasan. Ang makapagbigay ng mas detalyadong solusyon tungkol dito, yan ang trabaho ng komisyon. Pero hindi po yan reason para mag-relax tayo.” Hmmm…well said!
But the first and last time the city heard from the commission was last December 2019 when it submitted its recommendations: The construction of dikes on both sides of the Pantal River and rehabilitation of rivers, creeks and estuaries was among the items in the “long list of recommendations” in its 142-page report. Additionally, the commission pointed out that the “longstanding flooding problem in the low-lying coastal city is not just because of its natural topography and rising sea levels, but also largely due to the perils of urbanization.” Well studied!
The commission said “…the perennial flooding in the city was also caused by 1) Improper disposal of garbage, 2) Conversion of fish ponds and other catch basins into residential and commercial subdivisions, 3) Illegal structures erected by residents and some business establishments along the creeks.” On point!
So, what has Mayor Lim done about these? Apparently none. Clearly, the report was simply filed to be forgotten and was never acted on consciously .
Worse, city residents saw how Mr. Lim aggravated the situation when he allowed illegal fish ponds to proliferate that made the city’s riverbeds rise that caused cascading floodwater to spill out to low lying areas. Consequently, all the recommended construction of dikes and dredging of rivers to mitigate the flooding from the river, were rendered inutile. All came to naught.
Is Mayor Lim the ultimate “Mr. All Talk, No Action”?
Any alibi from him and his cohorts would have been acceptable if the flooding had seen a single mitigation activity that worked for the city. But none! Today, he’s just hoping that the rush to install the bright Christmas lights on the city’s two bridges will help make residents forget about their miseries caused by his indifference and hubris.
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RETURNING BALIKBAYANS FACE SAME RISKS. Last week, our former regular Punchman and now our correspondent in Los Angeles, Leonardo Galvez, pointed out what could be a grave mistake in policy on the part of Health Sec. Pingcoy Duque.
He is disappointed that Mr. Duque disagrees with the new policy of Pandemic Task Force that allows balikbayans visiting for the Christmas holidays to bypass NCR and proceed directly to destinations in Visayas and Mindanao for their quarantine passes.
As Nards correctly pointed out, to continue to require balikbayans to be quarantined in a hotel in Metro Manila is a deterrent. To be quarantined for even just 5 days in hotel in Metro Manila will already make a deep cut in the visitors’ budgets to enjoy the holidays even before they can join their families in the provinces.
The point is, we need more and higher dollar spend from the balikbayans to boost local economy, the kind of cash that locals do not have at this time.
If government provided a meaningful incentive to visiting balikbayans – no opening of luggage and boxes, meaning no taxation of goods brought in – so they can keep their budget for their holidays and homecomings intact. Government should do no less at this time. Spare balikbayans from forced quarantine in hotels.
Our health officials should realize that inbound fully vaccinated visitors are equally facing risks of infection like everyone at home who are fully vaccinated. Why should balikbayans be more burdened than us locals?
I support Nards suggestion: all fully vaccinated balikbayans should only be required to take RT-PCR tests and should only be quarantined on home care if tests show positive results in their localities.
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GO TO THE SUPREME COURT. The discussion on the large scale mining at the Lingayen Gulf at the provincial board is moot for as long as agreement signed by Malacañang Palace is not questioned before the Supreme Court – the final arbiter in interpretation of laws.
If the provincial government wants to stop the mining at the Lingayen Gulf, no amount of plausible arguments presented and or invoked during its Question Hour will stop the ongoing exploratory mining activity that DENR has authorized. In fact, DENR should be expected to continue defending it, and understandably so.
Not even protest marches against it will stop the proponent from proceeding with activities that will enable it not only to recover its investments and to ensure the potential great return on its investments, without care of its impact on the environment and the communities.
Gov. Amado Espino III should already form the legal team that will pursue the issue at the Supreme Court in collaboration with the SP before it’s too late! As the saying goes, “Aanhim mo pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo?”
So to cut to the chase, the buck ends on Guv Pogi’s desk.
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UNUSUAL POLITICS .There have been a flurry of interesting activities at the political front.
- VP Leni, chairperson of the Liberal Party, junked the party in favor of color “Pink” as point of association. LP president Kiko Pangilinan was muted, the same for Bam Aquino, the perceived heir apparent of the political Aquino family.
- After its decades of existence as a political party of note, LP is not fielding any candidate for the 2022 elections.
- The LP, main political opposition party in the country today scored well with the selection of Maria Ressa, one of the anointed point persons of the opposition out to destabilize the Duterte government and to oust Mr. Duterte as president, as Nobel Peace Prize awardee. But the news was not met with national joy. It only served to further polarize both sides of the political fence.
- Enough of unity talks in the opposition. The word war between VP Leni and presidentiable Manila Mayor Isko Domagoso has escalated, with Senator Ping Lacson himself having a word of his own vs. VP Leni (VP Leni naively asked Sen. Tito Sotto to drop Mr. Lacson for unity’s sake!)
- VP Leni’s “Pink camp” is focused on winning with one motivation: no Marcos should retake Malacañang at all costs. So it’s “Anyone but Marcos!”
- Manila’s Ka Isko is trying vainly to distance himself from being labeled as CPP-NPA-NDP candidate. After all, he was one of Joma’s resource person during the peace talks initiated by the Duterte government. Pictures cannot lie.
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