Claudio’s revenge

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    “NAGPUNTA AKO dito bilang isang tao, hindi para bastusin ninyo. (I came here as a human being, not to be subjected to your insults.)”

    So retorted Lormelyn Claudio, regional director of the Environment Management Bureau (EMB), to the loud boos and insulting catcalls that punctuated her talk before hundreds of rallyists fed up with the stench and flies rising out of the hog and poultry farms of Porac.

    Even before Claudio could take the microphone, she had already been skewered for her office’s “inertia and inaction” over the stinking issue by one speaker after another led by Ruperto Cruz, chair of the organizing Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement (PGKM).

    Indeed, soon as Claudio arrived – belatedly – at the site, she was already taken to task by the Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio David, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Fernando for her dismal failure to provide a definitive solution to the pollution scourge inflicted upon the people of Porac and Angeles City for the past 20 years.

    “Admit that you failed.” So Among Ambo admonished Claudio.

    Still, at her turn on the rally stage, Claudio countered with some self-serving claims to success, to wit: a) most of the piggeries and poultry farms had already complied with anti-pollution requirements of the government; b) six of the piggeries which were non-compliant were issued notices of violations (NOV) of environmental laws and were told to immediately comply with anti-pollution requirements; c) while the problem on odor was “not in the mandate” of  her office, her team had already performed on Monday  (September 20) the expensive “ammonia and hydrogen sulfide test” at the piggeries and poultries to determine whether the emissions causing foul odor were within government standards; and d) if the results of the test reveal adverse results, the issue would be brought to the attention of the local government of Porac for action.

    And capped this with a vow “to act on the complaints within two weeks.”

    Claudio’s stage act was met by even louder boos and more insulting catcalls. Manifest of the utter disbelief the rallyists hold Claudio in, of her abject loss of any shred of credibility. 

    Cruz’s instant riposte: Nahuli ang isda sa sariling bunganga. (The fish is caught by its own mouth).

    By saying that “most of the piggeries and poultry farms had already complied with anti-pollution requirements,” Claudio not only exculpated  the probable, as well as actual, culprits but virtually denied pollution ever existed in the communities. Displaying here her bias for the piggery and poultry farm owners. Affirming, in effect, what some placards bore: “EMB prostituted the Clean Air Act,” “EMB sold us to the pigs.” “EMB-DENR inutil pa rin.”  

    “Kung si Claudio’y wala man lamang naamoy sa salot na bumabalot sa mga pamayanan ng Porac, sa kabulukan at mga langaw mula sa mga babuyan at manukan, iisa lamang ang nakikita naming dahilan: milyong bungkos na rason na itinapal sa kanyang ilong. (If Claudio has not even gotten a whiff of the scourge of the Porac community rising from the stench and flies bred by the hog and poultry farms, then we can only see one cause of it: a million reasons stuffed in her nose.)”

    No, that did not come from Cruz, fiery as he is. It came from that protester that cried”Allahu akbar!”  at each speaker who damned EMB and the local government of Porac.        

    Claudio’s claims do indeed readily fall flat, face down before the bar of credibility, given some events that preceded them.

    On September 7, at the Fortune Restaurant in the City of San Fernando, Mayor Oscar Rodriguez brokered a meeting among Angeles Mayor Ed Pamintuan, Porac Mayor Condralitio de la Cruz, DENR-3 Executive Director Ricardo Calderon, Claudio and Cruz.

    The parties were asked to each name a coordinator to a task force led by the EMB to monitor the hog and poultry farms. Claudio asked the assembly to give her “two weeks within which to provide results.”

    Nothing more was heard from Claudio since. The two weeks she asked for lapsed on September 21, the day before the rally.

    Her “findings” of compliance by most hog and poultry farms – announced at the rally – therefore could only be “deemed as unilateral, self-serving, and therefore questionable – in the absence of the corroboration of the coordinators.”

    As Cruz asked: “Indeed, how would we know that the samples taken came from the effluents from the farms, and not from some other cleaner sources like artesian wells or even purified water?”

    Adding to Claudio’s (in)credibility problem was the proclamation made by Acting Porac Mayor Dexter David that there are 19 piggeries and 18 poultry farms in his town, not counting the backyard types.

    For so long, the EMB has put the number of Porac hog farms at only 14. If Claudio unwittingly knows nothing of the other five farms, then she is incompetent. If she wittingly knows them, then there may be some truth to the million reasons stuffed in her nostrils. As claimed in the rally.   

    Still, Claudio managed to salvage some credibility with her statement that notices of violations (NOV) of environmental laws were issued to offenders who were ordered to immediately comply with anti-pollution requirements.

    Swift and immediate was Claudio’s action on the matter.

    At around 4:00 in the afternoon of September 22, barely four hours after the end of the protest rally against the polluting hog and poultry farms, the EMB served an NOV – not to any hog or poultry farm – but to the majestic Royal Garden Golf and Country Club (RGGCC) co-owned by PGKM chairman Cruz. Not for causing any foul odor, not for being a breeding ground of flies – of which the one-of-its-kind-in-the-world RGGCC is a victim itself – but for some alleged violation of the golf course’s environment clearance certificate (ECC) which the DENR Central Office itself issued in 1998 yet.

    Swift and immediate was Claudio’s revenge.

    If this is not a clear case of harassment, then A. Caesar Zapata Lacson is not my name.  

    So what is to be expected from Claudio next? An NOV served to the Holy Rosary Parish of Among Ambo for its failure to get an ECC for its pastoral hall toilet?  

    Ha, ha, ha. Claudio’s sense of vengeance tickles our sense of humor. 


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