Avoiding presidential ire

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

For today’s column, I started to write about the president’s contemptuous disregard of the findings of the Commission on Audit that reportedly discussed alleged corrupt practices committed in the Department of Health when I heard a broadcast of Sibya TV. I paused to listen to the commentary of Sir Leo Lastimosa. He seemed to connect the death of Atty Jake Cimafranca to the COA report. Prudence told me to veer quickly away from criticizing the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. By the way, Sir Leo, also writes for this paper while Atty Jake was a fellow faculty of the University of the Visayas College of Law. In other words all three of us were somehow connected to one another.

Sir Leo seemed to suggest that Atty Jake, a ranking officer of the COA of the idealist kind, was directly involved in the investigation whose findings denounced malpractices in the DOH. Atty Jake was decades my junior but he died of heart attack. The cause of his death led Sir Leo to ask whether what the lawyer found in studying volumes of documents clashed with his sense of idealism resulting in tremendous pressure that led to his cardiac arrest. I understood what the broadcaster hinted on specially in the light of the abusive statements issued by the president against the COA. So, I had to stop here what I began to write. I do not yet want to follow Atty Jake’s last journey.

True to the off tangent nature of this column, let me proceed to an entirely different direction.

 What I started to do few years ago contributed something to the environment. When I began to plant trees on a small patch of land in the mountain barangay of Paril, few of my friends called my act “environment-friendly”. Truthfully speaking, my motivation was not purely selfish. It had something to do with the slogan “save mother earth”. Really, I wanted to be able to grow such hard wood as Mabolo and Tugas not just for the personal use my children in the future but for some social purpose. Robertson Davies said that a man must be obedient to the promptings of his innermost heart. Each time someone asked why I spent time, energy and some resources attending to the plants, I would only reveal my personal reason by answering that my great grandfather, Narciso, built a homemade mostly of Magkuno, Tugas and Kamagong and I want my children to emulate him. Since I could not get any Magkuno seedling, I concentrated on Mabolo (Kamagong is its lumber) and Tugas. Alongside though, I also added few fruit trees.

Here is the social angle to my act. More than my selfish motive, planting trees could help the environment. The simple act of cultivating trees contributed positively, no matter how insignificantly, to the issue of climate change. It can help prevent global warming. I have done my share. In fact, wanting to get the DENR involved, I would communicate with some of its officials that I was scheduled to plant this and that tree on this and that day. Most of the time I asked for their help and guidance. I sent many such messages but no reply ever came. I was communicating with unconcerned, maybe, deaf officials or perhaps I sent my messages to wrong parties.

I have felt the apathy of some DENR people. My efforts to help green the mountains is nothing of their concern. They have denied me guidance in attending to even one of the more than a thousand trees I have thus far. Yet, I also do not want now to inform Pres Duterte of his DENR officials’ apathy. There is a possibility that he might spread a protective mantle of the kind with which he covered the DOH and proceed to treat me like how he dealt with COA’s Atty Cimafranca. Let me just continue planting trees rather than raise a furor about DENR’s total lack of concern and risk presidential ire. Who knows, I might still be around to watch my children build their wooden houses.



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