EDITORIAL - Reyes is barking up the wrong tree

The Freeman

Robert Reyes, a part-time priest who is more into running and picking fights with people who wish to cut trees, was back in Cebu and, not surprisingly, tried to pick a fight with Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong, who has just cut several trees to give way to the construction of a sports complex. Like how one time he went to the archbishop's palace to confront Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma on his stand regarding the cutting of trees, he also went to Naga for the same purpose.

This is not to question Reyes's professed love for trees. What Reyes loves is no business of ours. What we take issue with is his interference in Cebu affairs when there are other issues he can busy himself with in his own place. More importantly, why is Reyes bothering himself with a few trees being cut in Cebu when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of trees being cut illegally elsewhere.

If he truly loves trees as he professes, he should go to the Cordilleras, to Mindoro, to Samar, or to Mindanao where illegal logging continues even as Reyes picks his selective fights in the urban areas. That is where true environmental destruction is taking place. That is where Reyes should take his fight because that is where he can make a difference if he is truly honest and sincere in his advocacy.

The integrity of the environment will not rise and fall on whether a few trees in Cebu are cut or saved. The number of trees being eyed for cutting in Cebu is too small to make any difference in the overall scheme of things. It is in the forests where illegal logging goes on unabated where Reyes and his ilk should devote their lives.

It is very doubtful, however, if Reyes will go to the mountains to confront the illegal loggers. There are no reporters and photographers who can record his activities there. Worse, he can even get killed there. Better stick to the urban areas where the media are. Getting splashed on tv and in the newspapers produces a kind of high seldom experienced in the drab and dreary confines of a church.

The best and most effective advocates are those who shun the limelight and just bury their noses on their advocacies, caring not where those advocacies take them, for as long as what they do and succeed in doing truly make a difference. But for Reyes and others like him to concentrate on Cebu, where the number of trees projected to be cut can only be counted by the fingers of a few hands, what they happen to save is not worth all the noise and trouble they create.

Again, Reyes has more teeth in his mouth than there are trees intended to be cut in Cebu. If he truly wants to make a difference, and if he is truly sincere in his advocacy, he should go to where the illegal logging is and there sacrifice everything he has in the name of the trees he professes to so dearly love. If Jesus can go to the wilderness, surely Reyes can to the mountains.

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