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Fake environmentalists?

Dean Dela Paz

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If one were to tug at the conglomerate umbilicals of the two water concessionaires caught with onerous arrangements that effectively deny adequate capital investments that guarantee adequate, clean and safe water and its subsequent treatment, for those virtually trapped in the concession areas of both Maynilad and Manila Water, one might just see ironic paradoxes validating or denying each’s environmental charge.

Just as bad as inflicting on the public unquestionably onerous provisions and simultaneously having the public pay for taxes both should be shouldering, there is now the additional issue of advanced “charges” for prospective investments in environmental cleanups and protection.

Worsening matters, two rabid nongovernment watchdogs seem to have tucked their tails between their balls, rolled over, crawled under the sheets and joined in a bestial orgy of foursomes.

In a statement decrying uncalled for and uncontracted charges for expenses or expenditures that the water concessionaires have yet to sign on and therefore are left unperformed, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go asked, “Saan naman kayo nakakita ng kumpanya na hindi pa man naisasagawa ang mismong septic tank desludging nito, nangongolekta na sila agad ng ‘environmental charge’ sa kanilang mga consumers para rito. Ano ito: pay now, service never? (Where can you find a company who prematurely charges for their septic tank desludging and yet imposes an environmental charge from consumers for services yet undelivered? What is this: pay now, service never?)”

At the core of Sen. Go’s call is what he sees as an unfair precharging of specific services required of the concessionaires amid their charge to put up requisite sewage lines and treatment facilities.
This is important. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has identified these gross inadequacies as one of the principal causes of pollution of the Manila Bay.

Both must remember that the scope of the services for which the public pays dearly inclusive of the taxes both concessionaires should be paying includes, not simply providing safe and clean water, but also sewage and treatment so we avoid turning Manila Bay into a giant backed-up toilet.

Despite such inadequacies, there are those who, by their rather uncharacteristic silence, appear to acquiesce, license and allow such. Two stick out — Ecowaste Coalition and Pamalakaya.

Both are constant features of incendiary street protests despite competent and accessible agencies under this government. The Ecological Waste Coalition is a nongovernment network of groups promoting environmental stewardship. Pamalakaya or the National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations is comprised of activist fisherfolk. It is a member of the Left-leaning militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Unfortunately on the issue of sewage and treatment facilities, one merely called for water conservation, while the other hardly raised a whimper despite the severely negative impact on fish and aquatic ecosystems their constituencies thrive on.

Derelict of their self-defined charge to hold accountable those remiss of environmental responsibilities, both fuel fears of an insidious unholy matrimonial chord strung between big business and pseudo-environmental watchdogs who’ve effectively green-washed accused patrons.

Inextricably entangled among the other businesses of both concessionaires, for Maynilad those include mining interests where the record is held for the country’s biggest mining disaster. For Manila Water, other interests include a property developer involved in a fatal explosion alternately blamed on poor sewage management to terrorism.

We cite these precedents to help appreciate some very critical environmental obligations and the investments necessary for those. Investments that should be capitalized over time as it is depreciated and gradually charged to us.

While their public persona and the businessmen behind these companies are known to regard the public welfare over profits, their actual record demands a review.

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