Earth Day again – without feelings PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 April 2014 11:19

On Sunday, April 13, the world will observe Earth Day. In Manila, many activities have been lined up; but, none in Zamboanga City so far not because the city is free of any environmental problems or threats but because local leaders couldn’t care less.

For one, sloppily constructed rip-raps along the city’s riverbanks and the consequent criminal destruction of human dwellings whenever flooding occurs is not the only main threat to the general population. Rather, for the past weeks, months and years it is the lack of potable water supply and sufficient electric power that have inflicted daily brutal miseries and economic disadvantages to  individuals, families, businesses and organizations in urban and rural areas. Needless to say, water and energy are completely dependent on resource availability and utilization. Sadly, at the rate these are going, it is downright unrealistic to expect for the local  government and line agencies to do something to effectively solve these problems, which directly affect human security and well-being.

Do Zamboanguenos really deserve this kind of government or governance they are getting? Take the case of the environmentally-controversial coal power plant set to be built in rural San Ramon. Once upon a time, a community leader vehemently opposed the project because of the serious threats it would pose on the population, but after election to the city council she has become meek as lamb and mute and dumb about the whole issue. Oh well, as the old British truism goes, the surest way to turn an otherwise fine person into a mumbling idiot is to put him in a government job.

Parenthetically, building a coal-fired power plant is not the only option to solve an energy supply problem, no matter how urgent or bad it may be. Such projects in the pipeline elsewhere in the country are being strongly opposed. Instead, there are renewable energy alternatives that private investors are talking about setting up in the city, and in the long run they may prove more dependable and cost-effective. If the cost of to-be-imported high grade coal will spiral and cooling water such a coal-burning facility depends on so much will tighten, then its price of electricity will rise steeply and there’s nothing that ZAMCELCO – and its consumers – can mercifully do about it.

The relationships between energy, ecology and governance – like some other spheres of living – are complex, but need not be overwhelming. This is partly why Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) in tandem with Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA) are launching another 2-year program this April that straddles these concerns.  A select number of barangays in the city and Basilan will continue to receive training and guidance in good governance and climate change risk reduction planning and management, with project implementation logistical support. A fundamental principle in the program is that the communities initiate and design their own plans and that in the long term will find the means and ways to sustain them. Such will surely require multi-sectoral engagement and cooperation – within and from without the barangays, which is a key element of ZABIDEA-PAZ’s concept of good governance. This working paradigm reflects the democratic ideal of what makes for the common good. — Peace Advocates Zamboanga