By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
The Iloilo City government’s noises to rid Iloilo River of illegal structures are all huff and bluster, at least in the unique case of Barbeque Park, owned by Kagawad Edward Yee.
City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, with his hesitancy, merely allows Yee to blast fire crackers right at his face.
Mabilog’s vow to clean up the river is just as empty as the fireworks that his predecessor now Rep. Jerry Treñas lighted at the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) during the campaign stretch of the May 2010 elections to “inaugurate” the “city hospital” inside the compound of the WVMC.
The “inauguration” consisted of Mr. Treñas et al unveiling a billboard that portrayed the conceptual design of the future health facility that, to date remains a fantasia.
Mabilog vouches time and again that the body of water, actually an arm of the sea, will be cleared of all intruders along its foreshores, notably the restaurant that the local legislator owns.
He set the deadline for the cleanup on March 30. He extended it to April 1. As of this writing, March 4, Barbeque Park still stands intact, save for the tiny cogon-thatched kiosk at the front that was demolished as a token of Mabilog’s self-proclaimed “political will.”
Yee, who bannered the political nickname “Mr. Clean the Environment”, must still be in blissful innocence that he was defiling the environment by his act of reclaiming the foreshore and ridding it of mangroves two decades ago.
He is still ignorant that he makes this part of the world less safe to live in by disposing all the liquid wastes of his restaurant directly into the sea. That includes human wastes his park is emptying into the sea sans sewage treatment from the restrooms of his restaurant.
Mangroves, for the information of Mr. Yee, perform the valuable role as fish habitat, particularly as breeding and spawning ground of molluscs, crustaceans and fish in general. Moreover, they filter the water, making it liveable for marine life, and still protect the dry land from erosion and sea surges. Mangroves signal abundant marine life.
Yee vied for the environment committee after his victory in the May 2010 elections. Had he clinched the chair of that body, we can only imagine how odd the predicament of the city environment could be. Be that as it may, his rival who later got the plum committee, Kagawad Dave Jamora, still makes no difference.
Jamora, chair of the committee on the environment of the City council, has not issued any statement much less a squeak, on whether or not to consider Barbeque Park a “public nuisance” or “nuisance per se,” hence, may be abated summarily, that is, by executive fiat without need for court order.
Mabilog announced on April 1 the start of the demolition of “all” illegal structures. He succeeded only in demolishing the tiny front kiosk of Barbeque Park. In contrast, that same day, three structures, also a restaurant, just across that of Kagawad Yee, were quickly crushed by a backhoe owned by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Kagawad Yee that same day declared on air that he would demolish his restaurant voluntarily. He asked for time to enable him to salvage materials he could re-use.
But I won’t blame people for doubting his sincerity. RMN morning anchor, Nove Guazo, wryly commented that the reprieve granted Yee by Mayor Mabilog, could end up with Yee ultimately as the victor.
Yee filed a petition for injunction with prayer for TRO in the local court. Before the March 30 deadline set by Mabilog, the RTC denied his prayer for TRO. He filed a motion for reconsideration. His petition for injunction is still pending and should the injunction be granted, Yee would have his last laugh and in a position to further irate the public by letting his restaurant continue operating with impunity.
Lawyer Romeo Gerochi saw a similar scenario and lost no time to intervene as “respondent-intervenor” on the side of the city government.
Mabilog was wavering and Gerochi smelled that after getting a copy of the pleading by the city legal office in answer to the petition filed by Yee. He suspected that the “weak” answer would result to Yee’s victory and ultimately making Barbeque Park untouchable.