Irrepressible Gina and hot air » Manila Bulletin News

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By José Abeto Zaide

Jose Abeto Zaide

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” — Mahatma Gandhi

This lady’s not for turning.

Ex-future Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is out, but not down. She remains an abiding conscience to the DENR and its mandate and a sticking point to the miners.

Ms. Lopez reminds that mining concessions are a privilege with appropriate conditions, not a right. She gets passionate not about not what is hers or ours, but what belongs to future generations.

On the putative study by a government inter-agency council to lift the ban against open-pit mining, Lopez asks who bears the consequences when the open pit takes in water which turns toxic. “We’d have to detox that open-pit water forever… If mining allows very rich people to get money to the detriment of farmers, public, it is an issue of social justice and against the Constitution,” she added.

Those who know which side their bread is buttered on counter that the loss of mining jobs and revenues can lead to increased criminality, further exacerbating the insurgency problem (Dinagat Province, 50 percent of annual revenues; Surigao del Norte, 5.000 jobs; Tubajopn town, 54 percent of its total income; Caraga region 300,000 populace – (including dependents of mining suppliers, subcontractors, and local businesses), etc.

Lopez had promised to provide jobs to affected workers under DENR’s “green economy” program. Gerard Brimo, a Chamber of Mines board member, vowed to work towards sustainable mining. “We are creating an oversight committee to conduct investigations on mining incidents. We will work towards sustainable mining,”

Status Quo ANTE? A New Year’s Resolution may not be good enough. Our miners would be more convincing, and the lady would be sooner mollified, by those who can show a record of having restored open-pit sites to habitable conditions.

***

Up, Up, and Away! It’s not only hot air.

The good news is that Vivencio Dizon, president and CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), gave the green light to hold the 22nd Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF) at Clark.

Vince Dizon’s intervention in the nick of time saved the day! Until they received this advice, Capt. Joy Roa and his PIHABF volunteers were in limbo because of rumor that Clark would not be available in view of increasing international air traffic.  During the period of uncertainty, PIHABF was exploring a possible alternative site which would have been good enough but doesn’t have the familiar ring and zing of Clark.

Now that the venue is settled, PHABF can follow through with Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teshiba Tulfo Teo who wants the cachet of Hot Air Balloon Fiesta as another flagship of Philippine tourism.

The annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta drew more than 120,000 visitors at last year’s four-day event, engaging pilots from around of the globe and getting kilometric international and local media mileage.

If plans materialize, next year’s Hot Air Balloon Fiesta will feature a daredevil female aerobatic wing walking team.  Can you imagine these Breitling Wingwalkers 1,000 feet airborne in the sky dance, do handstands and hang upside down from a flying airplane, safety-strapped only by a harness?  (BTW, the Breitling flying team wowed the 18th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in 2013.)

Incidentally, top honchos from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale were recent visitors at Clark.  It is too soon to speak about plans of the FAI World Air Games, the premier international multi-discipline air sports event fielding the world’s top Air Sports athletes. Previous editions of FAI World Air Games were in Turkey (1997), Spain (2001),  Italy (2009), and the latest one in Dubai in 2015.

If we can get our act together, will surprises never end?

Feedback: joseabetozaide@gmail.com

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