May 24, 2024

In a news tidbit that came out of a major daily a few weeks back, British actor Pierce Brosnan was reported to have been convicted of an environmental offense.
While on a vacation in Mammoth, Wyoming in the United States, Brosnan was indicted for straying off a trail in a thermal area during a visit at the Yellowstone National Park. He was promptly charged and after he pleaded guilty, was fined $500. He was also ordered to donate $1,000 to a foundation dedicated to the preservation of the national park.
What made the conviction of Brosnan a national headline is, of course, due to his status as an international celebrity. He is James Bond himself. He is the iconic agent 007 of Ian Flemming’s spy movies who drives the sleekest cars, uses the latest gadgets to save the world and does not run out of pretty women to flirt with. Oh well, it would seem that even James Bond is human after all and is not spared the travails of law and order.
At any rate, what makes the headline more significant than the personality involved was the way Brosnan was treated. He was treated like an ordinary offender with no special privileges.
The law was implemented and enforced with neither fear nor favor considered. And, to think that it was for such a minor offense, i.e., he merely strayed off a path and did not even destroy anything or made the slightest litter, the manner of enforcement of the environmental law is commendable. Maybe, we can take a lesson or two from this incident.
We have parks and forests that are worthy of protection as the Yellowstone National Park. We, too, have environmental laws that punish those who desecrate and destroy our natural resources. Yet, these laws are not enforced to its limit. Environmental degradation and destruction go unabated. The sanctity of our natural treasures is sacrificed in the name of profit.
Just to cite a recent example, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol is a forest reserve. It is one of the most visited tourist spots in the Philippines because of its pristine beauty and awe inspiring terrain. As per environmental laws, it is supposed to be a cultural heritage and therefore, is beyond the commerce of man. It is all there for all to see and behold in its natural state without further development except for its preservation.
Yet, in a shocking turn of events, there exists along its foothold a resort which was constructed in plain sight of those who are tasked to preserve it. How can such a massive structure that destroys the scenic spot be in existence there? Why was a man-made structure allowed to be erected there? The owner of the resort contends that he has a title to the property. How can this be?
Despite the flagrant violation of environmental laws, no indictment or sanction had been imposed against the owners of the resort. It was only when a senator called for an investigation about the matter that the controversy was stirred.
It was only then that self-proclaimed environmentalists sounded the alarm and badgered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources why this thing happened. This is only one of many environmental issues. There are others that are not reported yet merit equal attention.
For instance, in Mount Pulag, hikers insert their plastic trash in between hedges. In Burnham Park, there is a ton of garbage after every long holiday. In Session Road alone, the sidewalks are littered with candy wrappers and straws irresponsibly left behind by revelers the night before. These environmental violations remain unpunished because they are considered minor.
Minor violations graduate to major violations like a small hole in a ship which, if unpatched, will fester and grow.
There must be a serious and concerted effort to enforce our environmental laws if we want our natural resources preserved.
Like the case of Pierce Brosnan, all environmental violators, regardless of stature or reputation, regardless of whether the offense is minor or major, must be treated alike, both in the liability imposed and the obligation demanded.