Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Last comic standing

Got a million things to do. But just can't let this one pass without writing anything about it. I wonder if Secretary Mike Defensor of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here in the Philippines also has an American citizenship. If he has, I'd encourage him to join this show on TV that searches for the funniest people in the United States. There's just no end to his hilarious antics in that god-forsaken government agency. He's on the front page of local dailies again for brazenly approving the re-opening of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile's logging concession in Samar. Enrile's permit to cut trees in one of the country's remaining lowland forests and centers of biodiversity was not renewed by several DENR heads before Defensor. But apparently, according to our intelligent department secretary at present, the past government moratorium was bereft of any legal basis. So, lifting the ban on Enrile's logging business is in consonance with Defensor's "professional and personal commitment" to restitution.

I don't think Secretary Defensor has any clear idea of what he is supposed to be doing in DENR. Or, he's just utterly confused at the moment between performing his function as DENR chief or worrying about his stalled confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, where Enrile is a member. In any case, I find his pronouncements profoundly ridiculous. Granted that the government ban was illegal (notwithstanding the fact that Enrile's logging concession falls within the strictly no-logging zone of a protected area, the Samar Island Natural Park, with its enabling act now pending in Congress), I don't think he should have stopped at that. As part of that government, he should have informed the public of the results of the DENR's supposed studies to determine the sustainable extractive capacity of the forest areas covered by the logging concession. In the first place, that was supposed to have been the main reason for the moratorium imposed by the secretaries who came before him. If Secretary Defensor has a good understanding of his agency's mandate, he should have used the results of these studies to explain to the courts how logging firms like that of Enrile (contrary to his claims) have not really been successful in sustainably managing our forests during the past decades.

While bragging about their efficient and "less destructive", "selective logging" technologies, these firms often harvested way beyond the forest's sustainable yield. Many of them have not really done any genuine reforestation. Worse, they have converted our originally diverse forest ecosystems into monoculture tree plantations. By destroying the country's forests, these Timber Licensing Agreement (TLA) holders and corporate loggers have already jeopardized the lives of thousands of subsistence farmers and fishers who depend on such natural resources for their livelihoods and who are immediately affected by disasters like floods and landslides stemming from such environmental destruction. Unfortunately, Secretary Defensor must really have a tight noose around his neck these days. That's why he's rivaling both Jim Carrey and Jimmy Santos with his odiously silly acts and one-liners. Still justifying his decision to renew and extend Enrile's logging permit, he claimed that Samar's people have remained poor because they haven't allowed miners and loggers to operate in their province. Really, I think the guy would make a better comedian than a DENR secretary.


Daisy said...


parang flashback to marcos era. nakaka gulantang naman ang pag babalik ng TLAs.

IN the Samar region the United Nations Development Program Global Environment Facility spent millions of dollars to conservet that biodiverse region. I was still part of UNDP Envt Unit when that project was still on going and it is really sad to hear this story.

What can we do kaya?

Can we oust a secretary?

the martian said...

dear day:

i do wish other people working on protecting the environment here in Pinas will come to that position soon. and i hope our blogging and networking would contribute towards building such a consensus. in fact, i've been thinking of creating a blog where like-minded people could update each other, post critical views, and crystallize actions about the Philippine environment and DENR's interventions. we could start with our housemates, friends, officemates, and classmates (in OU) as blog team members. what do you think?

Daisy said...

Hi Randee,

Great idea. You should email Ava being in Tanggol I know she would be most likely updated and i know she also maintains a private blog of her own kaya she is familiar with blogging.

We can flag envi issues and clear facts so others won't just say that we just open our mouths and do nothing.