Letter from Rep. Atienza

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

Last week I got a nasty letter from former three-term Manila mayor and former DENR secretary Lito Atienza, now Buhay party-list, responding to my Sept. 15 column entitled, “Cimatu has done right for Manila Bay.”

In his letter dated Sept. 15, 2020 Rep. Atienza wrote, “Dear Mr. Avila, I read your column entitled ‘Cimatu has done right for Manila Bay’ which came out today. I could not believe that you wrote those statements. It saddens me that you seem to have believed the lies and misinformation being peddled by paid propagandists and trolls. I’m very proud of what my administration has done during our nine years as mayor of the City of Manila. This is why I am sending you two books, which will show you exactly what I with the support of all Manileños did to restore our beloved rightful place as the country’s premier city.”

I then checked my notes last Sept.15 and this is what I wrote: “Former DENR secretary Lito Atienza, who is a party-list rep of Buhay, found the cost of putting white sand along Manila Bay too extravagant! A lot of those interviewed remarked questioning what former mayor Atienza has done to clean up the Manila Bay during his three terms as mayor. Mind you, there are so many poor people in Manila who cannot afford to enjoy the luxury of seeing the white beaches of Boracay or Bantayan Island in Cebu.”

Anyway Rep. Atienza sent me a book entitled “Light from my Father’s Shadow (A son celebrates a Legacy of public service).” The other one was a brochure entitled “Mahal Kong Maynila” complete with colored photos of what he has done during his term as Manila mayor… one of them the Baywalk, including the street lighting that I remembered seeing before. Finally the last one was a coffee table book entitled “Maynila City Reborn,” which to me was the mayor’s propaganda on what he was doing for the City of Manila. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to read all the books Rep. Atienza sent me.

But there is a huge difference in what DENR chief Roy Cimatu is doing to Manila Bay these days, which to my mind is a total environmental cleanup of the bay that once was filled with garbage and the addition of Dolomite sand from Alcoy, Cebu that has made this project look like an expensive resort. From the way I scanned the pamphlets that Rep. Atienza sent, they were merely decorative and wonderful to look at. But what is happening in Manila Bay today is a totally different scheme.

Mind you, last year when my dear friend Bobby Joseph was voted Commodore of the Manila Yacht Club, it was my first time to enter that area of Manila Bay. During my interview with Joseph at the MYC, I challenged him to help be a catalyst for change and support the groups that are cleaning up Manila Bay – and he accepted that challenge; this was with Senate President Tito Sotto.

The last time I was in Manila was during the official launching of the Clean-up Manila Bay project where I brought my camera crew from MyTV to cover the historic event. I even interviewed my good friend environmentalist lawyer Antonio Oposa who is, like me, a Cebuano, while Joseph was given the title of Honorary Cebuano by Gov. Gwen Garcia. So in a sense the clean up of Manila Bay was also a Cebuano affair.

Before going to Manila for the clean up grand opening, the last time I was in Manila was for dinner with candidate for mayor Isko Moreno at a luxurious hotel near Quirino Grandstand. This was upon the invitation of Deedee Siytangco. I really wanted to meet with Moreno because I heard so many good things about him, so I supported his candidacy for mayor of Manila. Incidentally last July 29 we had a Zoom interview with Moreno on my talk show Straight from the Sky, which is shown in Metro Cebu and Parasat Cable in Cagayan de Oro. My staff just texted me that this show has gotten 12,000 views on our Youtube channel.

These days when we could not travel to Manila we relied on what we saw on YouTube, where hundreds of thousands of Manileños trooped to Roxas Blvd. so they could see the transformation of Manila Bay into what the DENR has done under Sec. Cimatu. Rep. Atienza calls them paid propagandist or trolls, but for me they gave me an idea of what they saw happening to Manila Bay, including the fabulous sunset that makes Manila Bay a destination for foreign tourists. This is not to deny that Rep. Atienza did something for Manila in his nine years as mayor. But as I said, it is incomparable to what Cimatu has done for Manila Bay!

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Email: [email protected]

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