Thursday, June 19, 2014

Will The Real Congressman Aliping Please Stand Up?

Congressman Nicasio Aliping Jr.'s alleged involvement in the environmentally tragic tree-cutting and earth-excavation in Mt. Sto. Tomas and his deafening silence in the aftermath are starting to give us more clues into the lawmaker's true nature. The unmasking of Aliping has began.

In the last month alone, we've heard of how Aliping cut and burned hundreds of trees. How he excavated mountain slopes opening them up for possible erosions. How he damaged springs that were sources of water for Baguio City. What makes this destruction worse is the fact that the Baguio Water District (BWD) has stated on record that the city is currently having water problems. These are all allegations of course but the mounting evidence points to Aliping as the culprit.

If the allegations are true, we have in our hands a lawmaker breaking the law in reckless abandon. The tree-cutting and earth-excavations were done without the necessary permits from the Department of Natural Resources (DENR). The irony in this is that when Aliping campaigned a year ago, he championed environmental protection and preservation. It turns out Aliping is the champion of his own interests. He is reportedly building a resort in the Mt. Sto. Tomas area.
Now, the Manila Standard reports that Aliping failed to attend two scheduled hearings on the Mt. Sto. Tomas case. Aliping snubbed the hearings. The report says "The Environment Management Bureau (EMB) in the Cordillera region will rule next month on the administrative case against Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping, Jr, who has snubbed two scheduled hearings on the case this month, for illegal excavation in watershed areas, a senior official said on Thursday." Aliping, for his part, wrote a letter to the EMB and basically declined to comment.

Again there's irony here. Aliping co-authored the Freedom of Information Bill which seeks transparency, accountability, and public disclosure in the government. Needless to say, Aliping is not being transparent and responsible in his treatment of the Mt. Sto. Tomas issue. By being mum on the issue, he's trying to protect his own ass instead of giving the people of Baguio the disclosure they deserve.

In short, Aliping promised the people of Baguio that he will preserve and protect the environment. But what did he do? He allegedly cut hundreds of trees in a forest reserve and watershed. Aliping promised transparency and disclosure by co-authoring the Freedom in Information Bill. But what did he do? He confined to himself the information that the people of Baguio badly needs with regards to the Mt. Sto. Tomas issue.