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Monday, November 29, 2021

This time I may not make it

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The destiny of the Parque Forestal de Arroceros

This time I may not make it.

Although she has survived previous attacks, this time she faces a particularly cruel and murderous one, thrown at her in treachery, by someone she thought she could trust.

Here, in truth, is the most impolite cut of all. After all, he had promised to protect her, in fact, he publicly professed to be her champion forever.

It is the mayor of Manila Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso. His victim: Rice Growers Forest Park, the only mini-forest in his polluted city.

On November 13, a desperate post from cousin Regina “Ninit” Paterno on the Viber thread of our Winner Foundation, builders and forest keepers since 1994:

“I have just witnessed the worst massacre in the Arroceros forest; All secondary trees and ground covers have been removed to make way for the concreting of what were the natural paths on the forest floor. It was shocking and heartbreaking. This has been the worst assault on the forest so far.

“The City Council has violated its guarantees that the interior forest would not be touched in its so-called beautification plan. All the natural ponds, which served as drainage, have been covered with earth. The large man-made pond made by the late Mayor Alfredo Lim is now under a structure.

“The Sanso Juvenal Garden, with native trees that it donated from our commercial history with Mexico, has been cemented. The concrete bench donated by the National Artist Napoleón Abueva was damaged; a part lies separated from the rest like a worthless lump of cement. Everyone would have cried if they had seen it.

“There were no birds singing that day.”

The assault had been mounted stealthily, obviously he deliberately stayed away from our foundation and its long-standing associated associations from other environmental protectors who belong to the Save Rice Cookers Forest Park Movement, including the Catholic Women’s Club and the Manila Medical Hospital. We found out about the murder in the middle of him.

More promises

Meanwhile, the mayor, now a candidate for president, is busy making more promises. In fact, he has the gall (as reported by Rappler’s Pia Ranada in her own post) to promise “massive reforestation with indigenous peoples if elected.”

His lying mouth continues, but his eyes remain conveniently blind to an ordinance (8607) that he defended himself and has now violated himself, declaring “Arroceros Forest Park a permanent forest park, in accordance with Republic Law No. 5752, or the Municipal Forests and Watershed Law. “It was a declaration of love and concern for the environment, and we believed it; it cleaned up the bay and city streets, and improved garbage collection, after all.

But his attack on a forest overrides all that; makes it one of the worst enemies of the environment. If only I had the slightest understanding of the health benefits forests bring to people! Apparently, it is so insensitive that it did not even feel the drop in temperature in and around the forest, if it was there. Even safer, consequently, it has forever scared away at least 25 species of birds that observers have identified dwelling there.

Our foundation had been awaiting the mayor’s response to several meeting requests, including one in a letter sent on behalf of members of the Save Arroceros Forest Park Movement, all 54 members with 30 private and public multi-sector stakeholders, and 124,858 members. individual. 58 percent of whom happen to be Manila voters.

We had written the letter when we learned of his “beautification plan” for Arroceros. We intended to bring to the meeting a forester and a taxonomist from the College of Forestry of the University of the Philippines and two doctors from the Manila Medical Hospital.

Like any traditional politician, he chooses the people he meets and limits their number, and many times that doesn’t include people like us.

History of the poor forest

Very soon, we realized that no reply would come to our letter. He had gone ahead with his beautification: he had killed many trees.

The history of our poor forest, without a doubt, has been one of confrontations with politicians. Succeeding Mayor Lim, Lito Atienza (a professional politician himself, for all intents and purposes; he has been deputy mayor, mayor, sitting congressman and now running for vice president), turned to the forest.

It appropriated 800 square meters of its 2.1 hectares for the Department of Education, which could easily have been located elsewhere. It destroyed overgrown trees and consequently destroyed the natural cooling canopy they formed.

We protested and threw ourselves out of the forest. The forest itself was starving; the water and electricity were disconnected. We have the Mayor of the South Atienza.

The case was dropped after Lim was re-elected and the forest reopened and began to revive and recover with the livelihood that our foundation and our partners provided: money, work, care. The park goers returned.

Mayor Joseph Estrada also looked at the forest, but saw it as real estate, and perhaps in an attempt to devalue it in the public eye, he first turned it into a partial junkyard.

But Mayor Isko is embarrassing all previous forest attackers. Imagine your potential environmental casualties if you become president. Claims would be made for the dolomite beaches, and hot, hard concrete would replace the fresh, life-giving trees.

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