Home Opinion Where Pampanga goes wrong, it can only be San Simon

Where Pampanga goes wrong, it can only be San Simon

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I PASSED the sun, the sea, and finally I reached the moon. Where am I?

No grade school quiz on geography but simply-simonistic riddle of our boyhood in somnolent Sto. Tomas, that verbal pun on our neighboring town.

But on-spot were the images evoked of warm sunshine and romantic moonlight, the expansive wetlands making do for an absent sea. Were, as in vanished along with San Simon’s rusticity of long ago.

These days one can only moan at the mention of San Simon. Read the news and see where and when Pampanga can ever get wrong, the dateline is San Simon.

Flooded, rutted highway

San Simon – Motorists passing through this town have to bear with stalled traffic along a section of MacArthur Highway due to kneedeep and slow-to-subside floodwaters at every instance of heavy rains.

The CDCP junction of the national road and the NLEx is a strategic entry point of motorists and commuters going in and out of San Simon and other fourth district towns, remains hardly passable for light vehicles after the rains.

Once the flood subsided, the highway is pockmarked with deep potholes that, again, results to heavy traffic with slow-moving vehicles risking breakdowns due to the deep ruts.

Accidents resulting to injuries and damage to vehicles have been reported…

Sub-standard steel

San Simon — The Department of Trade and Industry’s Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau sealed several bundles of sub-standard steel bars manufactured by a Chinese-owned factory…

“Apparently the plant has been previously warned of product standards violations,” the DTI said…

Fake cigarettes

San Simon – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) seized millions of pesos worth of cigarettes with fake tax stamps in a raid of two warehouses being rented by Chinese businessmen at the San Simon Industrial Park…

Three machines apparently used to produce cigarettes were found in one warehouse along with boxes containing 33.5 million filters, 20 bales of acetate used to make filters and packaging materials.

The second warehouse contained boxes of counterfeit cigarette brands.

The tax stamps recovered from the warehouses did not have BIR marks, indicating they were fake…

Gun-toting tanod

San Simon – A barangay tanod chief was arrested by police for alleged gun-toting and indiscriminate firing here.

The suspect, identified as Fernando dela Cruz, 45, chief of the village peacekeepers in Barangay Concepcion here, was reportedly drunk when he accosted three residents, including a minor, accusing them of being into illegal drugs…

Stink of shit

SAN SIMON — A poultry farm here was served with a notice of violation from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for allegedly violating the environmental code. D’ Meter Fields Corp., located along Quezon Road in Barangay San Pablo here, has been a perennial object of denunciation from residents here for the stench of its poultry farm.

The EMB reported that its personnel conducted an on-site inspection to address the complaints of the residents. Right at the gate of the farm, foul odor met the inspectors. Further inspection proved that the establishment exceeded the allowable capacity for its operation as stated in its environmental compliance certificate, the report read. The emission of foul odor of the poultry farm is a violation of PD 1586 otherwise known as Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System, especially as it is located in a residential area…

High levels of pollution

San Simon — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the investigation of three steel smelting plants here for violation of Republic Act No. 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act.

The Melters Steel Corp., Real Steel Corp., and Wan Chiong Steel Corp. were subjected to air quality tests on Dec. 11 to 15 last year. Commissioned by the Clean Air Philippines Movement Inc., the tests confirmed that the plants emitted high levels of pollution.

The EMB’s air quality management section found that the plants also violated the terms in their environmental compliance certificates (ECCs)…

San Simon is uncontested ground zero of environmental degradation in the whole province of Pampanga. No other municipality or city comes anywhere near the town as most adversely impacted environmentally.

It does not take a dyed-in-the-wool ecoactivist to see this. A leisurely pass-through Quezon Road opens up to everything wrong in the town.

Ah, how our beloved President Manuel Luis Quezon must be spewing his crispy puñetas from the grave at the desecration of his illustrious name by appending it on a veritable corridor of dust.

The road that cut through vast wetlands in his time was the Castilla’s favored route to the invigorating springs of Mount Arayat. That virtual waterworld of verdant flora and exotic fauna now lay buried deep under the monstrosity of smoke-belching, toxin-emitting factories and warehouses, a number of which have been raided by authorities for illegal contraband. Fake cigs now, can shabu be far behind?

With the wetlands filled up and compacted with earth, San Simon irretrievably lost its natural catch basins for overland flow during heavy rains. Wonder now why floodwaters are higher and recede slower?

The graver consequence of this is that the grounds where stand the factories are much higher than the adjacent North Luzon Expressway. With water seeking the lowest levels, the tollway is a floodplain wanting, not waiting, to happen.

That San Simon has to come to this, this dire strait…and its local government is all too nonchalant, aye, indifferent about it, simply beggars reason.

What’s wrong in San Simon? Could it be Wong? It can’t get any simpler than that.

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