Mayor Labella shows us his cleanup priority
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - August 20, 2019 - 12:00am

I saw in my Facebook page and later in the news the thousands of Cebu City volunteers cleaning up the Guadalupe River, which for me is something we should have done decades ago. But thanks to the new political leadership in Cebu City led by Mayor Edgardo Labella, he not only talks about cleaning up our waterways, he really puts people to make this talk a reality. At this point, I would like to suggest that this program be done on a quarterly basis with emphasis on penalizing those living along the waterways or esteros for making our rivers into a dumping site for their garbage. We need stringent laws for people to stop using our rivers as a garbage dumpsite!

At this point, perhaps we should consider putting up screens at the back of houses that face the rivers or esteros so they can’t throw their garbage anymore. If they put holes in those screens, then perhaps the city should come up with a plan to remove them from the riverbanks. I’m sorry, but something like this should be done if we want Cebu City to be clean and so that people will not return to their old dirty ways!

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It’s a new week for us, but we heard of the news that former environment secretary Gina Lopez has succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 65. ABS-CBN issued a statement that described her as "the pillar of strength that pushed [ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.] to achieve what seemed to be impossible. Her caring heart and selfless kind of love inspired people with-in and beyond the organization to help and serve others." Gina Lopez was a long-time chairwoman of AFI.

In an official statement issued by presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, he called Lopez a former Cabinet member "whose environmental advocacy and legacy remains unparalleled to this day." He added that “Lopez took the bull by the horns when she fiercely fought powerful interests in the mining sector, as well as in industries having negative effect on our ecology. She would be greatly missed." Gina Lopez was an environmentalist and served as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from June 2016 to May 2017.

During her term at the DENR, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining firms supposedly due to violations of environmental laws. Thus, it was just unfortunate that the congressional Commission on Appointments voted to reject her appointment as DENR secretary. In 1997, she founded “Bantay Bata 163”, a local emergency go-to, which aims to rescue children from physical and sexual abuse. She also established another flagship program of the foundation, Bantay Kalikasan, which has launched many environmental projects.

The former DENR chief was also chairwoman of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and thus helped clean up the Pasig River. She will be sadly missed.

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In another loss of life, while I submit that we should respect the members of his family, however when Facebook last Saturday issued a missing message and photo of a 16-year-old boy, we too felt that this was a problem in our community. Although I do have his name, I won’t mention it in respect of the family’s wishes. However, we do know that the 16-year-old Cebuano student was a member of the national football team and was found floating dead in the Mactan Channel off Barangay Opao, Mandaue City, in what investigators suggest was an apparent suicide case.

The discovery of his body was first made public in social media posts calling for the relatives of a man who was wearing shorts and black shirt printed with the words “Super Mario Bros.” According to Mandaue City Police Office chief Police Colonel Jonathan Abella, initial investigation showed that the victim was reported to have jumped off the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge at around 2 a.m. of the same day that social media reported him missing.

We also learned that he was a promising football player, the victim was a member of the Philippine team that took part in an international under-16 football tournament August last year in Indonesia. I’m sure that my surgeon Dr. Alvin Roxas knows this kid as his son, the football icon Ethan, also belonged to the same team. Perhaps we should look carefully at the reasons why he took his own life. I’m sure many parents would also want to know why, especially when this boy had an opportunity that few kids often get.

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