July 19, 2024

Who is to blame for the trees that were felled along Outlook Drive – the trees, for standing in the way of progress, or the developer, for cutting down the trees because they were obstructing the future and transformation of the city from a lazy mountain resort to a busting business metropolis, with high-rise condos that only people with money can afford?

Lying on the ground with limbs chopped off and their bodies sawed into half, the trees are no longer able to speak for themselves, but before their untimely demise and many more before them, one could feel the breeze gently hitting your face, hear the wind singing in your ears, and oh, that all too familiar scent, evoking memories of a once happy childhood past – swimming in the river in the buff; sliding down a grassy hill riding a carton box; and hiding your marbles and other treasures in a banana trunk with the use of your pocket knife.

“Wait a minute,” the developer cries out, trying to extricate himself from a mess of his own doing, “I went through the process and complied with all the requirements, so I shouldn’t be faulted for following the law.”
Truly? But who issued the permits in the first place? The Department of Environment and Natural Resources? City Hall?

It is a favorite Filipino defense – finger pointing. When the DENR flashes the thumbs-up sign, City Hall explains, it becomes ministerial on their part to issue the corresponding permit.
Ooops, the cat is out of the bag.
So, let’s ask. Who are the personnel in-charge of the permits department?
Now in this country, one does not become rich by being honest, but for the shrewd and cunning, they need to do things on the sly without appearing to be dishonest.
The question is – who made the first move, the bag carrier messenger of the developer, or the permits section, dropping hints here and there?
The saving grace – if it can be called that – for the rich and powerful is that they started from scratch.

Now, both the DENR and City Hall are headed by a retired military general and a former police general and like Caesar’s wife, above reproach, seemingly honorable and able.
But they need to fix the system because the system is rotten to the core, and they need to do it fast. If they hesitate, the system will gobble them up.
Hard to swallow, but the system eats honest men for breakfast.

March to the DENR offices and to City Hall, dear lovers of nature. Spice your sermons dear Bishop Bendico, with curses if need be, if only to smoke out the corrupt.
A moratorium on tree cutting makes it permanent. For government officials on the take, like impending retirement, none can be more painful that losing a regular illegal income.

But to safer (?) ground. Mr. President, if the very first action under the Anti-Terror Law will be the rounding up of the usual suspects, you will have trouble in your hands, like earning the distrust of a people trembling in fear.
But if your very first act is to clamp the men in uniform who did the rounding up, you will restore the faith and trust, even among the skeptical.

Mr. President, why is it when it comes to the police and the military, you treat them with kid gloves?
Take the Jolo incident, where four military officers were massacred by policemen.
You are saying that you will conduct a full and thorough investigation, and those found guilty will be punished.
Pero, kung kami pong mga civilian ang nasasangkot sa gulo, galit na galit kayo.
Barilin mga gagong ‘yan. Para ho kayong nakakalimot sa sarili.
OK lang po, ang hiling lang namin ay sana patas ang inyong trato sa amin.
We know you are trying your best to bring us to the promised land, but in case you do not know it yet, Marcos didn’t have the military under his thumb, it was the other way round.
Mr. President, do not fall into the same trap.
We are your people, not them.

Ilagay niyo lang po sa inyong puso at dibdib ang kabayanihan nina Rizal at Bonifacio, ang tapang na galing sa magigiting na sundalo ng Bataan at Corregidor (huwag po sa kasalakuyan) at ang takot at pagmamahal ni Cory sa Poong Maykapal.
Forgive me for being maudlin, but at my age, a few months short of my 80th (skip the nines, the Chinese say) birthday, I am entitled.