Saving Manila Bay

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

Rotary District 3810, led by District Governor Odie Tarriela, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) supporting the activities, programs and projects of the department for the next 10 years. The signing took place at the Manila Yatch Club on Sept. 19. Tarriela also presented a pledge of support to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu for his relentless effort to clean and restore the slowly dying Manila Bay.

“DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu is instrumental in carrying out the Supreme Court Mandamus ordering 13 government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay. The mandamus was long neglected since 2008, and Manila Bay continued to deteriorate over the years,” commented Manila Yacht Club commodore and Rotary Club of Manila president Robert Lim Joseph Jr.

Tarriela signed the MOU on behalf of the 116 Rotary Club presidents of District 3810.

Rotary District 3810 will adopt the “Save Manila Bay” project and “TREES” program of the Rotary Club of Manila. “TREES” stands for “The Rotary Ecological and Environmental Strategem.” The programs include tree planting, conservation and development of clean water, education for barangay captains for sustainable waste management and support training for recycling plastics.

Tarriela will coordinate with the nine other district governors of Rotary in the Philippines for implementing these projects on a nationwide scale.

Witnessing the signing ceremony were Robert Lim Joseph Jr., RCM president; Jackie Rodriguez, immediate past president; Thad Liamzon, vice-president; and Johnny Chotrani and Farid Schoucair, directors, and Ferdie Co, PDSAA. Also present were district officers Kat Aguilar, Edwin Chiu, Diwata Gabat and Joey Gabat. Justice Lucenito Tagle, who issued the mandamus regarding the case that gave rise to the “Save Manila Bay” project, also attended the occasion.

“Imagine, all Rotary Clubs in the country are proactively contributing in protecting, conserving and expanding resources of the environment,” said Joseph.

He added that the ten district governors will sign a pledge of support and a memorandum of understanding with Secretary Cimatu. They will also sign agreements with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Agriculture (DA) and other agencies to get their support and cooperation nationwide.

“Fixing Manila Bay is still a long way to go,” says Joseph. “The cleanup will take about six years to complete since the project requires dealing not only with complex metropolitan problems but also with vast area coverage. The Manila Bay area covers eight provinces in three regions – the National Capital Region, Central Luzon and Calabarzon. In addition, 17 principal river systems drain into the bay.”

The Rotary Club of Manila also expressed its appreciation to the Manila city government for its support to the national government and DENR in the implementation of the Manila Bay beach nourishment project. In its social media post, DENR said Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso, in a press conference, said cleaning Manila Bay entails a lot of costs, which is why the city government appreciates all the efforts of DENR in cleaning the area.

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Several statements applauding the speech delivered by President Duterte during the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2020, include one from Sen. Ralph Recto and another from peace advocate and a member of the Rotary Club of Gingoog City Saeed A. Daof.

Here’s the senator’s message:

“Great speech, Mr. President.

“If there’s an Emmy for the UN General Assembly speeches, the one he delivered can win the prize for the best written.

“The team who put policies to prose should be congratulated. What they put together is the template for presidential addresses: cohesive, coherent and straight to the point.

“If he was able to convey his thoughts with clarity to the world, all the more he should do the same to his own people at this time when they need hope and direction.

“The President’s unequivocal stance against China’s illegal reclamation in our seas should put to rest any ambivalence on where he and our government stand on this important issue.

“From where he spoke, with the whole world watching, he was able to plant our flag on a territory that historically and legally is ours.”

Saeed Daof’s message was originally posted in Facebook and received 200 responses as of yesterday:

“With reference to my FB post yesterday, Sept. 23, 2020 and without aggrandizing myself, I am joining our countrymen, who for their unbiased reason(s) and love of our country, are overtly expressing their thanks and congratulations to our President Duterte for the well-composed speech he delivered during the United Nations General Assembly two days ago, the 22nd of September, 2020.

“Likewise, as a peace and development advocate who risked his life in helping win the peace in Mindanao, I am sincerely and modestly expressing and reiterating my opinion and strong belief that the speech of our President could serve as a viable template in designing and implementing immediate and long-term mutually beneficial relations and cooperation between and among our present and future leaders and member-countries of the United Nations.”

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The flurry of discussion around the appointment of justices of the Supreme Court is far too perplexing. This happens in our country, as well as in other parts of the world, when appointments of the members to the high tribunal made by the heads of state are seemingly politically motivated. With respect to the appointment by US President Donald Trump of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the assumption of critics is that the nominee, if confirmed by the US Senate, will toe the Republican-filled Supreme Court line, and adhere to the wishes of Trump in decisions that the Republican Party has a hand. Two pending cases are the Obama affordable health care program for all Americans and women’s right over their bodies.

I am surprised that the popular thinking is that justices are not given the freedom to think for themselves, to make decisions according to the Constitution and rule by law, but are expected to repay their benefactor with decisions in his favor.

Let me quote the role of the US Supreme Court: “The Supreme Court plays a very important role in our constitutional system of government. First, as the highest court in the land, it is the court of last resort for those looking for justice. Second, due to its power of judicial review, it plays an essential role in ensuring that each branch of government recognizes the limits of its own power. Third, it protects civil rights and liberties by striking down laws that violate the Constitution. Finally, it sets appropriate limits on democratic government by ensuring that popular majorities cannot pass laws that harm and/or take undue advantage of unpopular minorities. In essence, it serves to ensure that the changing views of a majority do not undermine the fundamental values common to all Americans, i.e., freedom of speech, freedom of religion and due process of law.”

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