IT WILL be his first official trip overseas as the country’s chief executive, but President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has little reason to look forward to his upcoming visit to the United States.
On September 20, Aquino will be at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he is expected to present just how far the Philippines has achieved progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Unfortunately, in large measure because of the shortcomings of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino is bound to acknowledge before other world leaders that the country is falling short of several of these targets.
In September 2000, the Philippines and 188 other countries signed the Millennium Declaration, and committed themselves to achieving a set of eight goals by 2015. These goals – the MDGs – have since been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress for both rich and poor countries.
STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES – For nearly two years now, Leonardo Lustria Jr., manager of the Sta. Cruz water district, has been at his wit’s end trying to find ways to protect the town’s watershed, which feeds Sta. Cruz’s two irrigation systems and provides local folk with potable water.
Some 20 kms from the town proper, the Sta. Cruz watershed was also reforested more than a decade ago through an P18.1-million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project, which called for the planting of mahogany, acacia, agoho, eucalyptus, and other types of trees, was carried out from 1994 to 1999.
STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES – Nickel is not doing too well in the world market these days, but residents here do not seem to mind, even though nickel has become one of this town’s major revenue earners.
That’s because whenever nickel commands top dollar, red dust smothers the town’s main highway and the pier, and red mud cakes the roads. Residents also have to share their small barangay roads with huge, lumbering trucks, and when rains come, floodwaters the color of blood fill their ricefields. Meanwhile, up in the mountains, armed guards hired by mining firms menace real and imagined foes and sometimes engage each other in deadly shootouts.
SAN ANDRES, Tanay, Rizal – We were wondering why Sofia de la Rosa seemed a little agitated with our presence. After all, it’s not every day that visitors bother to come to this remote barangay nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre range.
In the course of our conversation, the barangay captain of San Andres also kept telling us that her people will not leave this village unless they are paid proper compensation by San Miguel.
The Lematin River forms the western arm of the proposed Laiban Dam watershed and reservoir. This river supports seven of the eight barangays that will be submerged when the dam project finally pushes through.
BOKOD, BENGUET — As Lakay Felipe Leano recalls it, newly planted rice seedlings in his village in Bobok-Bisal, Bokod had shriveled and died soon after a major Philippine mining firm began exploring for gold and other metals in the area.
The company denied having caused the drying up of a local creek that had helped irrigate Bokod rice fields. But petitions from the likes of Leano, an Otbong village elder, eventually led the local government to stop the firm’s exploration activities.
CLOSING DOWN a mine is not just a matter of giving employees their walking papers and putting a padlock on the door. Indeed, when a mine ceases operations, a full-blown cleanup (plus sometimes an orderly dismantling) follows. Or at least that is what should happen.
Over the last three decades, several large-scale mines in the country have been shut down because of economic loss, labor disputes, or a rejected mining application. But none of these mines was rehabilitated right after closure; unfortunately, government regulations at the time lacked the provision to enforce remediation. Those regulations came in 1996, when guidelines on mine rehabilitation and decommissioning were set in the implementing rules and regulations of the Mining Act of 1995.
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