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A P48-billion wall?

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2015 - 10:00am

While I was in Tacloban, a number of NGO and expat workers talked to me about the project people disparagingly call “The Great Wall” of Tacloban. Word is the P-Noy Misadministration is seriously working on the construction of a coastal wall similar to the one made by the Japanese along their shoreline. The Great Wall of Tacloban is rumored to cost P48 billion and will soon be processed as early as October.

Those challenging the idea are pointing out that Japan built their coastal wall to protect their nuclear power plants, industrial parks and high value commercial-industrial zones. The Leyte coastline runs along one highly urbanized city demolished by Typhoon Yolanda and a string of small municipalities. There are no nuclear or sensitive installations and the cost benefit analysis cannot support the insane idea.

They also pointed out that a new township would only cost 16 billion and for the money the wall would eat up, Tacloban alone can relocate everybody away from the shoreline into two new townships, give them roads, water and electricity and still have change.

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I always wondered how true it was that if one announces his or her candidacy, it is almost equivalent to pressing an attack button that sends a missile full of accusations and potential investigation your way with your name on it! Today I can almost claim it to be fact, truth and not an alternative truth or reality.

When Vice President Jejomar Binay made his early announcement about running for President in 2016, he immediately reaped the whirlwind of accusations, exposés, Senate investigation and media bashing. When admirers and supporters of Senator Grace Poe started pushing the daughter of Fernando Poe Jr. to run for President, she too became the target of a wicked and harsh attack centered around her citizenship, her status as a foundling and the fact that at one point of her life she had migrated to the United States. Labeling her as disloyal.

When Davao Mayor Digong Duterte began to rise as a credible and winnable candidate, pseudo activists and the DOJ jumped in to challenge the human rights records of Duterte and his bold claims of assisted euthanasia for criminal offenders. Apparently Duterte is a lot smarter being the fox that he is, by claiming he will not run for President but he could reconsider his decision at a later date. In other words Duterte will just wait for runners to be called to the starting block to avoid the character assassination that happens to candidates standing in the open.

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After announcing that he was leaving the Department of Agriculture by the end of the month in order to run for Senator, Secretary Kiko Pangilinan was immediately being “investigated” and criticized by some people. I don’t know if Kiko even knows about it but it seems several people have been snooping around trying to verify what his role really was in the fight and eradication of the Cocolisap or the bug that infested and almost killed our coconut industry. One group was asking about his performance and contribution while another was trying to stir up a controversy over expenditures perhaps hoping for the Ombudsman to initiate an inquiry.

For the record, Pangilinan came in to the Department of Agriculture at a time when the DA was too slow to react to the onslaught of the Cocolisap as well as controversies at the NFA. Pangilinan was very active and encouraging to his team and prodded the Philippine Coconut Authority to speed things up which in turn gave farmers a glimmer of hope and helped stop people from simply cutting down the rest of their trees. It was Pangilinan, aided by Senator Cynthia Villar who was able to get the President to declare a state of calamity over the provinces affected by the Cocolisap that resulted in a combined effort between private sector, the PCA and the Department of Agriculture. 

Half of the problem was solved by people, the other half was solved by Typhoon Glenda. In areas where Typhoon Glenda did not hit, scientists and DA personnel show that trunk injections, introduction of counter predatory insects, spraying and radical pruning and control beat back the pests to manageable levels. If Kiko checks who is digging up dirt on him and the department, he should start with people who lost their monopoly on the supply chain at the DA.

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Unlike Binay, Poe, Duterte and Pangilinan who are actually running and talks about it, one guy who say he is not running is Mayor Alfred Romualdez. Romualdez has repeatedly stated that he wants to get out of politics and spend time with his two very young daughters whom he almost lost in the storm and who were so traumatized that they now study in Manila.

About a month or so ago, I suggested to Mayor Alfred Romualdez to come out with an inspirational video for social media (like Facebook and youtube) on the rise and recovery of Tacloban and Taclobanons as they approach the two-year mark. The video entitled “Bangon” revolves around the theme that in spite of the different challenges and obstacles that Taclobanons face, they will “Bangon”. So as far as the video is concerned, it is a “commemorative-inspirational” video. Of course there was a spirit of “tongue-in-cheek” in the idea, because we were curious what politicians would say or make of it. Well, coincidence or not, Mayor Alfred Romualdez has just received a subpoena from the Office of the Ombudsman asking for his 201 employment file.

Given that the Office of the Ombudsman is an investigative / prosecutorial body of the government then it would be safe to assume that someone is “investigating” Romualdez, which is why they are asking for his personal file. I don’t know what the subpoena will accomplish or what purpose it serves, but from the little I know of Alfred Romualdez, this is the sort of thing that puts a fire under his pants and gets him “back in the ring” and run for higher office where he stands a better chance at winning than his enemies as well as relatives.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com.

ACIRC ALFRED ROMUALDEZ COCOLISAP DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE MAYOR ALFRED ROMUALDEZ NBSP OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN PANGILINAN QUOT TYPHOON GLENDA
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