(Before my commentary, please watch the video announcement from the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation which is developing the Manila Solar City in partnership with the City Government of Manila. It is a development project I am openly supporting as a Manilenyo chiefly and mainly because I believe it is the right direction to pursue in terms of Manila’s need to generate revenue and to re-develop a key feature of Manila that has been neglected for decades. As pointed out by officials of the Manila City government, among them Mayor Erap Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, the city is currently in the red and facing the enormous challenge of paying off about P3.5 Billion in debt. Moreover, they’ve also cited a great need to revitalize Manila which has been left behind by Makati, Taguig, Mandaluyong, and other component cities of Metro Manila. The main reason why the Manila Solar City is a good answer to both needs at this point is that: One, Manila Solar City will generate billions of pesos in additional revenues. Two, as a development project, it comes at a substantially lower cost to the city government if it were compared to the other option, which is undertaking a re-development project funded by the city itself. Three, and lastly, is that such a massive project will no doubt create hundreds of thousands of jobs as well as business opportunities both during construction and once it is completely built. Will it pose additional risks or destroy Manila bay? You’ll find my answer in the commentary after the video.)
For decades and decades we’ve seen Manila Bay and Pasig River get worse and worse. Despite the over-hyped efforts to “save Manila Bay” or “save Pasig River”, both bodies of water have all but died or are still wriggling in death throes.
So far, the much vaunted and hailed involvement of a number of multinational corporations in cleaning up both bodies of water have achieved worse than nothing — in the same sense that taking placebo may aggravate the condition of a disease. In this case, the placebo are a bunch of Corporate Social Responsibility Programs bandied around by multinational companies and their media partners that have so far been like firecracker explosions — nothing but smoke, heat, and light.
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In the middle of last month, the column of a good friend’s father crystallized an idea that had been nagging at the back of my head for quite some time. Mr. Alvin Capino wrote:
Indeed her detractors might have a point in their challenge to Lopez that perhaps she should first address the environmental issues and concerns involving her and her family’s businesses before she disparages and condemns others on what she thinks are their sins against the environment.
For example, Lopez might wish to take time to respond to the report of the Commission on Audit that her much-publicized pet project to rehabilitate the Pasig River has been bungled and P17.7 million of taxpayers’ money has been lost.
The job of explaining falls on Lopez because she is the chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission which is the agency in charge of the rehabilitation of the Pasig River.
The COA 2012 report said PRCC wasted millions worth of recycling equipment because the commission decided to buy the equipment in advance before the facilities were ready. It turns out that it was able to build only one functioning materials recovery facility when it committed to build 10 in four years.
I have no idea at all whether this is corruption or just a stupid mistake with legal consequences and I have no interest in heaping more venom on a personality associated with a favorite target of the cyber-mosquito press.
As Carlos Celdran had said about whether or not he would continue lending his voice/social media clout to protests against Mali’s continued incarceration and reclamation in Manila bay, I believe there are already a lot of people voicing out the extreme revulsion they feel towards one media organization or another.
In following the GRP Credo which is “We Beg to Differ”, what interests me more is outing the idea that the model pursued by Administrations as far back as the Ramos Administration towards cleaning up Manila Bay and Pasig River could be as ass-backwards as it could get.
So far cleaning up Manila Bay and Pasig River has been pursued in the same way that people have pursued “save” brand of environmentalism which shamefully now includes “save tahong”. It can’t be worse than if some nutjob printed out Christmas greeting cards like Unicef and came up with the claim that a portion of the money spent to buy the card would go to cleaning up Manila Bay or Pasig River.
What is wrong with that? Well, it’s the idea that cleaning up the environment can be supported through dole-outs — no matter how fancy, sch-mancy the appeal is.
The better idea, really, is to make cleaning the environment a decent and profitable BUSINESS. Revolutionary? Not really. It’s just plain common sense and it’s the kind of idea that comes to people when they’re NOT participating in running events or buying greeting cards that will supposedly save something.
Clearly, this is the opposite of the patently leftist brained approach towards environmentalism. Let’s just, for a moment, pit the idea of ‘cleaning the environment as a social good’ and ‘cleaning the environment as an economic activity’.
Hmmm… A pat on the back by the party leader who was last seen shaking his booty with Ara Mina, or money in my pocket for cleaning up? Decisions, decisions, decisions….
After accepting that ‘money for cleaning up’ is the way to go, the only other argument worth participating in is whether or not this will achieve substantially cleaner rivers, bays, and other bodies of water. My bet is that it will.
(To Be Continued Tomorrow)