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Protecting the Environment

Protecting the Environment

We commend Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez for having the political will to protect the environment and the people affected by the destruction of nature. This lady secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is a no non-sense government official.  She is not influenced by fear or fervor. She says what she means and means what she says. Her advocacy to care for the environment could be seen when she was still a private citizen. Together with the different groups and institutions, she started the care and cleaning of the 27 kilometer Pasig River. Sec. Gina also spearheaded the rehabilitation of the La Mesa watershed—the source of drinking water of 12 million Metro Manila residents.

I had been to Surigao City during last year’s Convention of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ ADFAP (Archdiocesan and Diocesan Finance Administrators of the Philippines). One can see the destruction of mountains and residential lands. Truckloads of soil, together with the nickel and gold material deposits in it, were being loaded in ships for transporting to China and Japan. I thought all the while that the minerals are being sifted and the soil are left in the mining area. I was wrong. Since truckloads of soil are being brought to foreign countries to sift the precious minerals, the process leaves dents in the area. That is the reason why one can see the pools of water around the mountain area during rainy season. That is also the reason why Surigao is now being flooded when it rains.

This is not to mention the effects of mining in the health of the residents of the community. Only quite a few mining companies are responsible enough to comply with the Mining Laws. We should stop the suffering of the poor They are the marginalized sector of our society. Our government officials must have the political will to protect not only the citizens but also the environment.

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We deplore the inhumane treatment of prisoners at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center where all of them were ordered by law enforcers and soldiers to strip naked. The degrading treatment was done by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-7, Philippine National Police, and Armed Forces of the Philippines to implement its “Operation Greyhound” to search for illegal drugs allegedly smuggled in by some of the inmates’ visitors.

The “degrading” method of search and seizure was done in the early morning where the prisoners were awakened by the law enforcers. Although shabu and other gadgets were found, the manner how they were obtained was illegal. Search and seizure could have been done during office hours since the individuals subject thereof are already within the controlled environment, the city jail.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology should clear its rank. How illegal drugs, gadgets and big amount of money in cash are found inside the jail and detention center is the look out of the warden and heads of these places. They should have been strict in checking the items being brought inside the jail and detention centers by the relatives and visitors of the prisoners and inmates. Big time drug lords are reigning it over in such environment controlled by the government officials. Had they been strict in the inspection of visitors, such illegal drug deals could not have happened inside the prison.

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SSS Chairman Amado Valdez of the Social Security System (SSS) announced that 2.2 million pensioners (retirees) can now withdraw the P1,000 increase in their monthly pension. Giving of pension increase are done on staggered basis: pension was released on March 3, March 7 and March 10 for January, February and March pension.

Hopefully, Chairman Valdez can check the big amount of bonuses being given to the Board of Directors, officials and employees of SSS. Is it justifiable for them to still receive such big bonus when they have not been doing their job in the collection of contributions from erring employers some of whom fail to remit the contributions of the employees. They are already receiving high salaries and a package of fringe benefits. They should think of the SSS members who receive only a trickle of what the SSS guys are receiving.

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