Jericho July

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Off and running, that’s what we’ve been seeing these past days, from no less than Mr. Public Servant — yes dearie, he’d want everyone to simply gloss over that he’s the New One in the Block, that he’d not mind being called Benjie for short. No, he wasn’t fazed at all by a DENR order to shut down compost-processing operations at the dumpsite. He knew it’s bound to happen that way, since a Writ of Kalikasan had been granted by judicial process since way, way back yet. Instead of wringing out his hands in utter dismay, he took the bull by the horns and simply sought out a reprieve, subject to terms he was sure he could abide by.

That done, he next set his sights on things every ordinary constituent sees every ordinary day in extraordinary times. Traffic, that’s what. What to do? Clear the roads of all illegal obstructions, a marching order he gave on Day One to offices so obviously concerned with what’s on the road that’s been slowing down vehicular movement every which way. Lo and behold, the usual thoroughfares long infested with debilitating, time-wasting, patience-sapping gridlock get to be freeways in the wink of an eye.

All of a sudden, Marcos Highway, Kennon Road, and Naguillan Road were free-flowing roadways, the nightmarish days of clogged up vehicles seemingly breathed out by a genie on the road. Even Gov. Pack Road, which had long been a transport terminal of all sorts of congesting contraptions, got the comeuppance after just an hour of ocular.

He may not be an eager-beaver of a Moreno, but he’s doing it his way in the same quiet, efficient, and no-nonsense result-generating way. Any other way would have elicited the usual “pang drama effect” diatribes. Just get the major roads unclogged, that’s what he’s doing, and prospective as well as habitual on-the-road violators are simply forewarned. Defy him (as a business establishment learns well enough) and you’d get the no-nonsense treatment, a closure order that would need a mis-welding effort to get it lifted literally.

Of course, we’re on bated breath awaiting the hammer-force for stern environmental action, not simply a forewarning or a fair warning, but the effect of what ought to have been done for Baguio’s dwindling environmental resource, chief among it are our trees. Initial waste management efforts are assuredly underway for what appears to be a partiality towards WTE, long a chosen engineering solution in many countries, both the developing and the under. Some kind of a demonstration type of a program is in the offing, purposely to determine by scientific standards, if this is the kind of solution the city needs all these years.

And let’s not ignore that it was in July 16, 1990 when Nature’s loudest and deadliest outburst caught Baguio right on the chin, enough to bring the city on its knees, enough to make residents think twice about living it up despite the natural disaster. It took all of the next five years, before Baguio succeeded in a mighty recovery, no doubt brought about by the magical words “hiting the ground running” among national and local officials put in office in 1992.

Jericho July would have meant much more today if we’re just quite minded about it. Like the Biblical walls they were, Jericho came tumbling down when the earth let out so powerful a heave, all of 7.1 magnitude, in 26 long seconds. Jericho July would seem to hold a more paramount importance if we’re talking about the city’s preparedness in case another Big One takes place. Whichever month agitates whichever side of the equation anyone is, a Green July remains the paramount color that should command greater attention, greater seriousness, greater resolve, not to prevent more Jericho Walls to come crashing down, but to reduce disaster risks through efficient management of available resources, most of all human.

Whichever way you see it, this is when we must take a collective stock of the environment. Are we doing enough for Mother Nature to give us earthlings the needed respite from the onslaught that harsh weather systems have been inflicting on our daily life? How are we faring in scaling down by 2 degree C the toxic content of the global temperature which over 200 nations on earth have etched on granite stone to be achieved in 3 years’ time? Close to home, where we have had insufferable landslides that snuffed out over a hundred lives, are we close enough to prevent similar tragedies from even occurring after convincing evidence that we are amid danger zones just waiting to happen?

A Green July should be timely enough for us to pay a more serious, sober heed of what’s troubling Mother Nature, why she’s acting in so insane a way, misbehaving at whatever fancies her, wherever, whenever, and whatever. This is the time, stripped of the built-in Pinoy jest that routinely comes from any downtrodden day-to-day experience, when we ought to be identifying crucial steps on s what we can do, by way of shared effort, to scale down the continued toxic bombardment of our shared atmosphere, from the motorized contraptions that we rev up to the industry machines that we run.

Decidedly, it’s all about clean, safe and healthy air that we ought to be having and we even have a law mandating it everywhere else. But how can we take that kind of air when our own economic activities continue to remain beyond the nose of government policy makers who should have been stern in enforcing the use of clean, alternative energy for everyday use? Sure, government insists that the way to go is for the clean energy use, but how come in just about a year’s time, about 20 more coal plants are set to spew more of the toxic fumes into the air?

Our public officials out there have a task so finely threshed out for all of us to get going. It’s never too late to do just that, not just back to basics as it were, but back to earth, as it should be. We all know what must be done and how. If we like, there’s always a way; if we don’t — or are too indifferent about it — there’s always a reason.

Fair enough reason, isn’t it?

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