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Iloilo environment code drafted

BY PET MELLIZA/ The Beekeeper

“The task of protecting the environment is not easy. Nature can be very violent especially if we are party to its destruction. The flooding in Cagayan de Oro and the recent earthquake in Negros Oriental speaks of this. On the other hand, advocates for the environment also become targets as in the case of Jaime Diez of Agusan del Sur who was shot inside his house in front of his wife or that of Melania Dirain who was shot inside her office. Both died and the theory is that their deaths are in relation to their work. Both are CENRO officials.” – SP Licurgo Tirador, Iloilo Provinc.

Tirador, chair of the environment committee, Iloilo Province said that February 27, the third consultation for his draft provincial environment code.
W. Visayas went through the flood of Frank in 2008. Fellow Filipinos also had theirs in the deluge of Sendong in in the Mindanao cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan  December 16, among others.
These tell us that development hangs on the ecology. Saving the environment is not “anti-progress” as plunderers of natural resources mouth.
Tirador hopes the proposed code would be submitted for docketing at the sanggunian secretariat “soon” but it may be past May that it would be calendared for “first reading” that sets the road for public hearings, at least three, prior to the second reading where it is taken to the floor for debate, if any.
It will undergo third and final reading, which is requisite for voting and that may take place by year-end or early next year.  After its enactment, it will be forwarded to the governor for approval. Before it takes effect, since it has penal provisions, the code or its grist must be published for at least three consecutive weeks in a local newspaper of general circulation.
The code though is racing against time. Participants to its drafting which include public and private individuals, are unanimous in prohibiting all forms of mining in Iloilo but that may be helpless in preventing two foreign companies now conducting mineral explorations in northern Iloilo for copper and manganese.
It’s too late for government to realize that mining and logging are the culprits for the tragedy in the wake of Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan December 16 where over 2,000 perished.
The code may be too late in stopping DMCI from erecting a coal-fired power plant in Concepcion, Iloilo whose ground breaking last year was graced by a certain PNoy.
DMCI owns Semirara Coal mine on Semirara Island, Caluya, Antique, once a paradise like Boracay Island of Aklan but which today has become a desolated wasteland shorn of vegetation, its beaches turned into black flats of silt and sludge, unfit for recreation, fishing and farming of seaweed.
Caluya town in fact already lost its glory as seaweed capital of Panay due to toxic wastes from the coal mine that contaminated the shores of mainland Antique. To the big capitalists the glory and profits of Caluya, to the people of Antique the wretchedness of losing a paradise.
The ordinance may be too late in stopping the hills of Dumangas town from being flattened by a company stripping its surface and bowels of limestone that the Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC), owner of another coal-fired plant in Iloilo City, is devouring to absorb sulfur-oxide from its fumes. Dumangas is less than 30 kilometers from Iloilo City via the coastal road.
One more coal-fired power plant and the mountains of Passi would follow suit.
Coal-fired power plants are universally regarded as major cause of global warming or climate change now wreaking havoc in our lives. Corporate greed knows no limit and brooks no second thought pushing humanity to the precipice in order to profit.
They have at their disposal “scientists” chorusing platitudes on coal energy and that global warming is a “natural cycle” not androgynous or human-made.
Between them and scientists who advocate renewable energy, the latter deserve our respect.
The corporate-hired scientists deserve to be called quack scientists. One such, hired by PEDC to counter anti-coal advocates, predicted lower electricity. Power rate in Iloilo City never went down due to “higher prices” of coal, they explain. Brownouts continue to pester consumers. Meanwhile, farmers in La Paz note that the calves of their cows and goats are sick, many of them died from unknown causes.
Among the first signs of poisoned air are the loss of “natural barometers” like insects, birds, and animals.

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