Naga victims asking for economic sabotage!
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - November 9, 2018 - 12:00am

Thirty-nine residents of Naga City have filed a P4.5-billion lawsuit against entities they believe were responsible for the landslide that killed at least 78 people last September. They are suing CEMEX Holdings Philippines, Inc., Apo Land and Quarry Corp., Apo Cement Corp., Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Region 7, the Naga City government, and the Cebu provincial government. This report is fine given the realities of the time. Now, whether P4.5 billion is the right price for that incident, I dare say that it is up to the court.

 

But what I don’t like in that report is that, these people are also asking the court to stop mining operations in Cebu. They asked that the court issue a Temporary Protection Order within 72 hours to stop the quarry operations while the case is pending. Granted if the court gave them the 72 hours to cease operating their quarries, what good is that really when what they are asking the courts is literally economic sabotage! Lawyer Benjamin Cabrido said they are suing on behalf of the next generations of Filipinos. Come now, is this for real? Who really cares for the future of our children??

I understand that on August 29, Naga Mayor Kristine Chiong issued a cease and desist order against Apo Land after they were informed of the unusual cracks noticed by the residents. That same day, MGB announced these cracks are a natural phenomenon and not that critical as to pose imminent danger to the communities. This prompted Mayor Chiong to lift the order on September 6.

Now I gathered that the complainants want the respondents to pay P500 million in rehabilitation funds, damages amounting to P1 million for each of the 77 fatalities and eight missing persons (P84 million), P1 million each for the 57 houses destroyed and buried in the landslide including their appliances and movables (P57 million), P100,000 for each of the seven injured persons (P700,000), and P500,000 for each of the 8,262 displaced persons (P4.1 billion), P500,000 as moral damages for the families of the 84 fatalities and missing persons (P42 million), P200,000 as exemplary damages for each of the families of the fatalities and missing persons (P16 million), and P1 million attorney’s fees.

I have no problem with the families of the victims asking for reparations, but their demands to stop mining means thousands of Cebuano would become jobless and the government loses valuable revenues from our natural resources. Now if Naga always was having landslides in the past, then perhaps they can request for a termination of mining in Naga, but not the entire Cebu. These people are just asking too much to kill the industry and I don’t agree with their demands! These people should help the economy of Cebu not destroy it using the courts of law.

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Two years ago on November 9, 2016 I had my kidney transplant surgery. That day I got important news from my nurses in the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. First was that Donald Trump won the US presidential elections, something that was totally surprising since he was lagging in the polls. Then my son, Jesus Valeriano arrived in my hospital room to inform me that Philippine Airlines has accepted him for pilot training.

In short, not all stories about my medical condition were negative. When I got back home, I had to be in isolation and my first-ever visitor in the house was no less than former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband Michael. Yes, she agreed to wear a protective coat to be in my presence. That’s the former president now speaker of the house who showed her humility in my own home.

Finally, my son had to leave to live in Manila for his station with PAL and I asked him to bring one of our cars to Manila, but he refused saying that he would rather ride a cab or tricycle because he lives only five minutes from his workstation. In the end, I had to sell two vehicles as they were all manual transmission and I could no longer step on the clutch after my surgery, so I bought a new car with an automatic transmission. Life goes on after a kidney transplant.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

KRISTINE CHIONG
Philstar
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