July 23, 2006

Steve T. Barreiro

Environmental abuse?

The torrential rains of last week, while not spawning on the scale of the infamous typhoon Igme, once more evoked images of the deluge. Checking out the www.weather.com website, we discovered that the weather system was huge stretching from Philippines to Japan. While not considered a “super cell” as the weather aberrations featured in the disaster movie “The Day After Tommorow,” there is concern that continued degradation of the environment causing polar ice cap melting, could conceivably result in such a potentially frightening scenario.

Only last week I received information from Mr. Louie Tupas, a co-alumnus of mine at the Philippine Science High School who is working with a scientific group in Antartica, that the polar ice caps are indeed melting.

Unfortunately, a lot of people do not realize the ramifications of the continued abuse of the environment. Take the lax implementation of the Clean Air Act which requires vehicles to pass certain emission standards; one only has to look at the streets throughout the country to see many vehicles still belching smoke. It is widely documented that the burning of fossil fuels (oil) is a major cause of what is referred to as the green house effect, a condition that has resulted in global warming which in turn has caused melting in the polar ice caps. Some studies have predicted that unchecked melting of the ice would eventually raise sea levels by as much as 3 meters. This would be disastrous to such cities as Manila. Can you imagine what a 10-foot increase in the sea level would do to the newly opened “Mall of Asia” situated at the reclamation area along Roxas Boulevard.

Potentially far more frightening may be the abrupt climate shirts predicted by such an event. Some scientists speculate that a new Ice Age may be the result. Thus, we need to act now.

Closer to home, the Sabo dam project has elicited mixed reviews. While the project largely prevented spillover from the Padsan river, there are also reports that the dam likewise prevented the drainage of water into the river. In fairness, this was not a realistic assessment of the river control project as the project is still far form completion. The infrastructure itself has not yet been fully completed; further, dredging of the heavily silted river has not yet been implemented. Excessive siltation is also a result of environmental abuse such as the indiscriminate denudation of our forests.

Once again some politicians have sought to gain publicity from this event as this Laoag City Councilor who once more pounced on this issue condemning the dam. This official has consistently stuck his head into situations of which he apparently has no knowledge of. To the informed observer, he does come out as a fool. However his often misleading statements may only aggravate the problem by misinforming a generally unknowing public thus precluding the initiations of community based supplementary flood control efforts.


That there is the case of the Adams controversy wherein another newly appointed City official, according to well informed sources, blatantly disregarded the ordinances of the municipality in a most disrespectful manner. In the first place, the municipality enacted the “green fee” ordinance to finance efforts to develop and maintain the eco-tourism areas, which have made Adams a prime eco-tourist destination. Further, there is also a legal basis for the implementation of the said ordinance. And to think that this official is supposed to be a member of supposedly environmentally supportive group. Hyprocrite! In fairness to the group, PINAKBET, they should not be condemned for the uncalled for actions of one of their colleagues. Sources within the group averred that most of the members present at the incident wanted to observe the ordinance however this official remained intransigent. Perhaps, Adams Mayor Dupagen-Daquioag should take this into consideration and not go into wholesome condemnation of the group. Considering that the erring official is connected with the Laoag City public information office, there are indeed abusive officials still around.

Abuse in power, abuse of authority, and abuse of the environment; perhaps in this case they are one and the same.

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