Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Preserving the Rice Terraces (Part 2)

By Anton Antonio
September 1, 2015

On August 25, 2015, I published a blog titled “Preserving the Rice Terraces” where the core sustainable tourism principles were enumerated, these are: “(1) Minimize impact; (2) Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect; (3) Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts; (4) Provide direct financial benefits for conservation; (5) Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people; and, (6) Raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate.” (Antonio, 2015)  And ended the blog with: “When politicians get involved as proponents and oppositors to a local government unit project, we could only assume that it’s all about politics.  The danger in getting politician involved in purely environmental issues is that the environment gets compromised… as politics in the art of compromise.  The environment should never be a political bargaining chip to be used by politicians who are actually misfits in the environmental world.  While the politicians in Banaue talk about legalities and economics, they are oblivious of what really matters… the parking building project must first conform to the six sustainable ecotourism principles (mentioned in paragraph two of this article).  These sustainable ecotourism principles will help them discern if the project’s purpose and objective is at all geared towards preserving the rice terraces.” (Antonio, 2015)

My thoughts to promote positive action, like an answered prayer, came to fruition.  On August 31, 2015, gmanetwork.com  published the following news article:


August 31, 2015, 11:51am --- To prevent a scenario similar to the controversial Torre de Manila and monument of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal in Luneta Park, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is urging the Senate to probe into the reported plan to build a multi-level car park building near the Banaue Rice Terraces.  In Senate Resolution 1544, Santiago said the residents have allegedly lodged a complaint with Ifugao Regional Trial Court to stop the project citing the absence of local consultations and environmental impact assessment.  “(The) Banaue Rice Terraces (is) a local tourist spot inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and declared as a National Cultural Treasure by virtue of Presidential Decree No, 260,” she said.  The residents claimed that there were irregularities involving the loan for the project, noting that the funds were disbursed by state-owned lender Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) while Ordinance No. 16, which authorized the municipal mayor to borrow the money, was still being reviewed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Santiago noted.  The local government reportedly defended the construction of the parking building by saying it will encourage tourists to stay longer in the town and that consultations where held in 2013, according to the senator.  “The six-storey car park building allegedly threatens to impede the view of the terraces, weaken its structural integrity, cause irreparable damage to the environs, and create more traffic congestion in the area once built,” Santiago said.  Congress must strengthen existing laws that protect heritage and cultural sites amid the rampant construction being done near important areas and landmarks, the senator said.  Legislation is necessary to set the guidelines for the documents that local government units must present when borrowing funds from banks, she said.  The 49-storey Torre de Manila condominium has been tagged as a photobomber for marring the sight of the Rizal monument.  The Supreme Court earlier stopped the construction of the building and is now hearing arguments on the case. --- Amita Legaspi, GMA News”

The Torre de Manila and the Canadian Garbage Mess should be good situational lessons for us, Filipinos.  And a Senate investigation seems to be the most effective way to thresh out issues like these.  Although Senate investigations are only “in aid of legislation”, they still remain to be the only forum for the blighted truth… such as preserving the rice terraces.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015).  “Preserving the Rice Terraces”.  Retrieved on September 1, 2015 from http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2015/08/preserving-rice-terraces.html

www.gmanetwork.com, (2015).  “Miriam Wants Planned Car Park Near Banaue Rice Terraces Probed”.  Retrieved on September 1, 2015 from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/534989/news/regions/miriam-wants-planned-car-park-near-banaue-rice-terraces-probed

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