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Home Columns Ike Señeres Gross National Negligence
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Columns - Ike Señeres
Written by Ike Señeres   
Sunday, 12 December 2010 09:18

 

BANTAY GOBYERNO (SERIES 046)

By Ike Señeres                                                                                    

 

Manila’s Esteros Represent Environmental Degradation That’s Not Only the Government’s Fault but Also of All who live in the Metropolis

 

It was my first time last week to see the esteros in Manila and to say that I was shocked with what I saw is an understatement. I was fortunate to be invited by Ms. Gina Lopez along with a delegation from the Corinthian Coffee Clutch, a volunteer think tank that has now adopted the name ISIP BAYAN. Ms. Lopez wanted to meet some urban planners from our group, and so we went, along with some of our members who are experts in waste management and community organization.

 

To go direct to the point, what I saw was clearly the result of gross national negligence, and I say that because the degradation of the environment in that area is not just the fault of the government, but of everyone who lives in this metropolis, everyone who produces wastes as a result of consumption, wastes that are not properly disposed of as it should be.

 

I realized however that the problem is not just waste disposal, but the bigger problem it seems is the violation of river-easement laws that were completely ignored by the long parade of local government officials who were supposed to implement these laws. Immediately I realized that the problem is political, because that is the only way to explain the absence of political wills that should have been there in the first place.

 

Ms. Lopez is correct in saying that not unless we clean the esteros that are feeding it, we could not clean the Pasig River, and not unless we clean the Pasig River, we could not clean the Manila Bay too. To that, I will add that not unless we clean the watersheds in the mountains, we could not clean the Laguna de Bay too, and not unless we clean the Laguna de Bay, we could not clean the Pasig River.

 

In most other countries, the richest people live in the waterfront communities, and that is because the views from that vantage are spectacular. In contrast, here in the Philippines, the poorest among the poor live on the easements of the rivers, and there is nothing spectacular about the congestion and pollution that is caused by the overpopulation of these waterfronts.

 

Beauty Versus Safety

 

As I listened to Ms. Lopez, I understood right away what she is trying to do. By being able to succeed in the cleanup of the smaller waterfronts and waterways, she is laying the groundwork for the political will to grow as a groundswell, after the people in the metropolis could see that if we could succeed in cleaning the smaller parts of the ecosystem, we could then believe that we could clean the bigger ecosystem as well. The good news is, she is already succeeding and many people are already getting convinced that it could be done.

 

Beauty is one thing, safety is another. Ms. Lopez is trying to beautify the esteros and the Pasig River on one hand, but it is easy to see from what she is doing that it is going to be the safety of the people in the metropolis that will be the ultimate result of her work. It is not too difficult to understand that, because the floods have already shown us what the congested waterways could do to our environment.

 

It took many years of neglect to bring the Pasig River and its tributaries to its present state of decay. Certainly, it will also take many years to bring it back to its former glory, but that could only happen if everyone who contributed to its destruction would move towards its restoration. To do that, multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary efforts would have to be undertaken, and that too would take a lot of political will.

 

It is obvious that in order to clear the easements along the waterways, the illegal settlers would have to be relocated. Ms. Lopez believes that it is a better option to just move them to more-decent dwellings nearby, rather than move them to far places that would take them away from their livelihood. This is the reason why she needs the urban planners, and ISIP BAYAN is committed towards helping her in that task.

 

In the final analysis, it is going to be the combination of good environment, shelter and livelihood programs that will bring lasting solutions to the problem as defined. Aside from that however, I see the need to also bring in good education and health programs, and ISIP BAYAN is going to help with that too. I am sure that as we move on, we will see the need for more programs, but we will deal with that too. More than anything else, it is going to be the rollout of the good pilot experiences in the Pasig River project that will benefit the nation the most. The fact is, there are hundreds of other rivers that also have to be cleaned, but if we could clean the Pasig River, there is no reason why we could not clean all the other rivers. # # #

 

Go for Complete Convergence! Tune in to Universal Access 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Sunday in DZRJ 810 khz or log on to www.rjplanet.com/rj-radio/  Watch KA IKING LIVE! Saturdays 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm in Global News Network (GNN), Channel 21 in Destiny Cable. E-mail iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639293605140 for local cable listings. Visit www.senseneres.blogspot.com

 

 


Last Updated on Monday, 20 December 2010 11:26
 

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