Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Seeing The Damage Done In Cabuyao/Sto. Tomas Is Shocking And That's Putting It Mildly

Yesterday, July 15, we participated in the tree planting activity at the destroyed forest in Cabuyao/Sto. Tomas. The activity which was organized by JP Alipio of the Cordillera Conservation Trust aims to reforest the road. That is to plant trees on the scarred earth with the hope of seeing it return to its original state. If I remember it right, over a thousand pine tree and coffee seedlings were planted that day.

Seeing the damage done in the forest is shocking to say the least. Aliping said that he planned on building an eco park in the area, a nature and adventure site. Suffice it to say that Aliping's idea of an eco park seems to be the complete opposite of what most of us know.

When a politician gets implicated in something tragic wherein he/she has grossly betrayed public trust, it is always wise to keep an open mind and give him/her the benefit of the doubt. When the destruction in Cabuyao/Sto. Tomas first came to light and no other than Baguio City Congressman Nicasio Aliping Jr. was tagged as the culprit, I gave the solon the benefit of the doubt. Surely, the top leader of this parts of the land would not be that stupid to cut a swath of destruction through a protected forest without the necessary permits. Anyone accused of a crime deserves the chance to provide an explanation. Aliping deserved the chance to explain himself.

But what did he do? He lied by telling a television station that the project was by his brother Brian Aliping whom he said resides in the U.S. only to admit later on that he indeed is behind the project. That's a complete turnaround from his initial stance. Even if it is true that the project is indeed by Brian, shouldn't it be Nicasio Jr.'s responsibility to his constituents in Baguio City that he prevents Brian in proceeding with the road project? Is he implying that he wouldn't wag a finger even if the whole of Cabuyao mountain goes down because the person doing the destruction is his brother? 

Allow us to remind the reader that springs have been polluted so Baguio City and Tuba's water sources have been affected. Most reports say that the number of trees cut and burned were about 750. After seeing the area destroyed, it has to be much more than that. Additionally, as you read this article, some of the trees there continue to die. They are doomed. With their roots exposed, there is very little chance of them ever getting the right sustenance to survive. There are also several cracks in the constructed road. These are recipes for massive erosions. With the rainy season in full swing, it wouldn't be surprising to hear about more trees dying there because of erosions.

Another thing, it's worth mentioning over and over again that during his campaign in 2013 for the Congressional post, Aliping promised a "pagbabagong rumerespeto sa kalikasan at kapaligiran". He even made a campaign video about his love of the environment. Also, in 2012 when he was a Baguio City councilor, Aliping promised to the municipality of Tuba in Benguet that he won't cut trees when he builds what he called a nature and adventure site in Cabuyao/Sto. Tomas. Can you see the pattern here? Aliping promises something but does the complete opposite. It's scary.

Lately, I've received a few emails (through this blog) that accused us of only writing negative things about the Congressman. The main point of these letter-senders is that Aliping has done a lot of good things for Baguio City that it's not right for us to keep on beating him with the Sto. Tomas tragedy. I just wish to make it clear to these letter-senders that Aliping's good works is not the issue here. The issue here is his hand in the destruction in Cabuyao/Sto. Tomas. His positive accomplishments are separate from his follies. Think of it this way: if a man rescued a person and killed another, the good act does not free the man from paying for the implications of the bad act.

We invite you, the reader of this article, to look closely at the photos below. Setting aside the fact that Aliping promised not to cut trees, is this the way to build an eco park? All these photos were taken just yesterday. You are the reader. You be the judge. #reforesttheroad

Note 1: All of the people in these photos were there yesterday to plant trees in the area. For more photos of the tree-planting activity, click here.

Note 2: You are free to copy and use these photos (including the the ones contained in the link above) with just one condition. And that is you use them responsibly and that you use them in something relevant/related to the issue.