Lopez’ relentless campaign down the drain

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    ‘How many more deaths and how much more damage to crops and private property President Duterte has to see before massive corruption at the DENR and local governments become real to him?’

    THE day the late Gina Lopez started going after big-time illegal miners in the country, you knew her days as DENR secretary were numbered. She gave everything she had to get in the way of mostly illegal quarrying operations in many areas. She knew what DENR and local officials had been trying to hide – that Marikina, Pasig and the rest of Metro Manila would be flooded if the quarrying at the Marikina Watershed was not stopped.

    In her 2017 post, Lopez said “she was shocked to see it. As long as there is quarrying there and the Marikina Watershed is denuded, the Pasig River will turn brown, and it will become more and more shallow – and it will cause flooding in Metro Manila!!”

    Predictably, the powerful Commission of Appointments brought her down. Since then, not much has been heard of her relentless campaign against illegal mining, except that the companies she closed down had reopened.

    It was only last March when DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu finally ordered the Mineral and Geosciences Bureau to scrutinize the mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) of Rapid City Realty and Development Corp., Quarrying Rock Group, Inc, and Quimson Limestone, Inc. The three mining companies have been conducting quarrying at the balding watershed now known as the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.

    Military men are known to be snappy, but not Cimatu who waited for two long years before taking action against the three. The reward that DENR and local officials got for turning a blind eye to the illegal quarrying at a lawfully-mandated protected area was devastation for much of Metro Manila caused by typhoon Ulysses. How many more deaths and how much more damage to crops and private property President Duterte has to see before massive corruption at the DENR and local governments become real to him?

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    A dinner of family and friends at a restaurant in Marikina Heights in Marikina City last Saturday exhibited total disregard for physical distancing and wearing of masks. The party venue was just across the street of the police precinct of Barangay Marikina Heights.

    The IATF seems to be looking the other way as more restaurants continue to buck the regular quarantine protocols. Even bus firms, such as the G Liner Transit, openly allow passengers to be seated beside each other. As COVID infections continue to rise many people now try to put the real danger behind them as if they could command the deadly virus to take a leave of absence.

    Duterte seems to take things in stride, saying that “hindi na nakakatakot and COVID-19” when he assured that the government would be able to source out funding for the vaccination of Filipinos. No sense of urgency there from the President who should leave no stone unturned in making sure the vaccine’s availability is given the highest priority even as needs to be shaken from his complacent stupor and from the stranglehold of an uncaring government bureaucracy.