Home Opinion Zoom LensCrime WatchSportsLifestyleArchives Contact Us Feedback ContributeAdvertise







March 4 - 10, 2017

The Law is Almost Optional

“The law is almost optional.” These were the most emphatic words of then presidential candidate and now President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. He was referring to the very rampant proliferation of all forms of illegal activities in our country: the drug menace, illegal gambling, illegal mining, deforestation and illegal cutting of trees, illegal fishing, graft and corruption in government service, and all forms of anomalies in and out of government.

It is now under President Duterte’s administration and willful leadership that countless illegal drug cases have been curbed and drug dens and laboratories have been raided and drug dealers killed. Just imagine how Maasin City had become a drug haven, that even its farthest mountain barangays have been infiltrated by drug pushers. Many of our supposed political leaders were into drugs. Many policemen were drug dealers and users, some with brains destroyed by their self-imposed drug addiction and people no longer believed in their status as law enforcers. Indeed, where was the law? Ask the congressmen, the governors, mayors, barangay chieftains, tanods, etc. If not for divine intervention, the Philippines would now have become the strongest and most demonic center of illegal drugs in Asia and, ultimately, in the world. With those mega shabu laboratories recently found, who could question such probability?

Indeed, the law is almost optional. Look at this grandiose plan to construct a Coastal Bypass Road in Maasin. There is already a law prohibiting the destruction of corals, coral reefs, mangroves and other marine treasures whose loss would mean the food sources of our people would be placed in great danger. It is “ The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998” or Republic Act 8550. First and foremost, it establishes that food security is the policy of the state. Any destruction of the already established and existing marine life, biodiversity and ecosystem shall violate the provisions of the law.

The 1.5 billion coastal bypass road will start from barangay Lib-og up to barangay Mambajao. The coastal areas of barangay L ib-og and Combado are full of fully grown mangroves of different species. Seawards are found tidal flats, sea grass, seaweeds and coral colonies aged in years. These areas have provided marginal fishermen and their families with seafood for decades and generations.

This coastal road would certainly destroy the marine ecosystem and bio-diversity. I t is here where all forms of marine life proliferate, exist, live, take safe haven: crustaceans, bivalves, molluscs, fishes of various species, sea cucumbers, shellfish, etc. The litany is endless.

Then the heartless mega thinkers would surely deprive Maasinhons with free food for the taking with nothing but sheer diligence. The fishing, the reef gleaning, the fish nets, the spears, and all those gadgets for getting fish, shrimps, crabs, and other shellfish would be left idol and unwanted when the coastal road proponents would finally overcome the provisions of RA 8550. And the law would again be optional, with money’s glitter.

At Maasin City’s wet market, how are the fish prices regulated? No regulations imposed so far. The fish pricing ordinance has laid sleeping in the minds of those who are answerable to the people. Gross negligence or dereliction of duty?

Yes again, the law is almost optional. If you have the power, the money and the influence, you can control the fish supply and prices, even the under weighing of fish already bought by unsuspecting customers. H ow many stalls are now vacant? Ask the vendors who prefer to sell along the streets rather than at the mismanaged wet market. The law is almost optional. Just wait for heaven’s karma. Even the innocent will cower in fear when the angels shout for retribution.

March 4 - 10, 2017

What coastal road?

The plan of constructing a 4.71 km. coastal bypass road from Brgy. Lib-og to Brgy. Mambajao that will traverse the coastal barangays of Mantahan, Abgao, Tunga- Tunga, and Combado in Maasin City which the DPWH says is meant to ease "traffic woes" is absurd and too ambitious. It's easier said than done. For there are a great great many things to consider even before one conceives a plan of this sort.

The problems are almost the same as that of Mumbai in India whose citizens are now trying to grapple with the same situation except that Mumbai is always a busy city, in fact much busier than Maasin. This project may prove to be beneficial to our transportation system but not for the environment.

Unfortunately, the traffic congestion that they are trying to project is far from being true. Because actually, traffic congestion in Maasin is not oftentimes a daily occurrence. The energy and volume of traffic here are not even felt on quiet
summer days. If any, traffic congestion only happens temporarily during special occasions like the yearly anniversary of the province, city charter day, and yearly activities of a few vocational schools and three colleges. Why what they call traffic congestion? Not because of too many vehicles plying around the city but because of the slow movements of pedestrians, tricycles, the vending stalls that are occupying our sidewalks and illegally parked vehicles along the streets and highways, particularly R. Kangleon and Tomas Oppus, not to mention the city's lamp posts that are not in their proper places. And there is only a small percentage of Maasinhons using their vehicles on these streets and highways as opposed to the majority dependent on public transportation for their daily commute.

Only a small percentage of commuters living along the coastline will probably use this road, making it a false solution to traffic problems. Maasin is not choked by traffic as it is heavily dependent on its mangrove cover which works as a buffer against inundation.

There are environmental problems of course that are also likely to happen should this P1.5 B project pulls through. The sea which currently brings fresh air will emit toxic fumes to every house from the proposed coastal bypass road. You know transport-related fumes are one of the best sources of atmospheric pollution anywhere in the world. It will cause a visual obstruction to the view of the sea. It will encourage dumping of garbage by the side of the road as well as encroachment by any means. It will also destroy the thick mangrove cover which is essential for the city which is susceptible to inundation. It will lead to an unimaginable spike in pollution level with vehicles plying this road.

It will cause more problems including irreversible ecological damage than provide solutions to the city's traffic woes. It can permanently damage the livelihood of all coastal communities. The construction can lead to soil erosion along the coastline.

Tidal movements will change. Public swimming enjoyment along the beaches will become a thing of the past, especially if this project extends any farther in the future. The coastal road will lead to severe environmental damages that some important sites might be lost if not decimated. The project expenditures will only become wasteful, a willful destruction of nature in the name of development.

As it is well known, the Philippines is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, so maybe it is in the city's best interest that a feasibility study should be seriously conducted. But if it is done through corruption and business maneuvers then it is no longer advisable to have a road stained with evil intentions. I'm wondering if a public meeting has already been held on this project.

A place like Maasin being small in stature, with a land area of only 211.70 sq. kms, and awkwardly situated in between the ocean in the south and a mountain in the north just a hair breath away from each other can only be a subject of ridicule among the sarcastic. No matter how you see it, this proposed project could only go nowhere.

And much of the budget may only fall in the hands of interested individuals because when the order of the house dictates no one can refuse. In other words, the coastal bypass road is not the answer to Maasin's "traffic".

There is no other alternative course of action than simply forget about it. In less than half the cost, traffic can be eased out by implementing a comprehensive transportation policy. Color coding and road assignments for local public transport may help if there is really a traffic problem or implementing a "no parking lot, no car" policy. And why not use the rest of this budget to promote ecotourism industry, instead? Why not take care of sanitation problems first? The high prices of our basic commodities? Those existing holes at the reclamation area need to be checked, etc. Like I said, there are so many great things to consider before contemplating on a project seemingly much more important than life itself. What had happened to the rest of the P 2.1 B reclamation project before? Perhaps it just went down the drain. Correct me if I'm wrong.

But how this coastal bypass road would be built is for Maasinhons to find out.

Because usually they are built along the wide parallels and slopes of ocean beaches which we don't have.

Like many residents of Mumbai which has a greater stock of mangroves in their area than Maasin's, our citizens are also fighting to save ours and the rest of our ecosystem.

Mumbai's concerned citizens have already learned their lessons, so are we going to go through the same situation?

February 24 - March 3, 2017

Alternative fact fake news, anyone?

Thank God for the colorfulness and comic relief brought about largely by inept discordant governance pretending to be competent or comprehensive. Realities on the ground point to a selected few macho pet projects that bog the mind on where to resource and how much do they get from the billions of increment while those that really are found wanting and promised still wait for manna to fall from heaven by the river.

These always get derailed and sidetracked by diversionary events. Or wishful thinking and careless whispers that get to have primordial attention from those concerned.

Our “best and brightest” in government, including its chief steward, should have by this time mastered the art of removing the chaff from the grain, the good, the bad and the ugly. But it seems more signals are being mixed up by loquacious no-brainer explanations in endless circles.

But to confuse and create some chaos appears to be part of Laotzian technique of Chinese vintage not just of medical concoction or herbal application.

Governments have perfected the craft of concealment and deception and juggle between fiction and figment to pass off as truth. So, they are now offering us alternative fact and fake news of authoritarian origin which used to be creative imagination. All we know is it is all divisive. With so many dishes on the menu and too many cooks spoiling the soup, how can we get to the main course of real change and development? Ultra nationalism and recycling the past like Martial rule and excesses are never the answer. We have to open up and globalize or stagnate which was already on the right track, direction and results. “Quousque abuteris patientia nostra?”

The Southern Leyte Times will be celebrating the life and works of its founder Antonio Mendoza Reyes by publishing some of his best works for our readers to enjoy one more time. Publisher Reyes continues to be the guiding light that made Southern Leyte Times (SLT) the largest circulating newspaper & on-line news website in Southern Leyte province.

The hardest job in the world

I used to think that elementary public school teachers had the toughest job in the world. That was until I joined the United Church of Christ chapter in Maasin City.

For although primary school teachers handle six classes of 60 different students a day; or a total of 360 students, and perform ten non-academic chores as well - they have supervisors to help them and can get a few uninterrupted hours of sleep at night.

While pastors are on-call 24-hours a day, attending to their church member’s problems, which often require home visits and a lot of patience. And of course they also have to prepare and deliver their weekly sermons, which itself, is a horrendous undertaking.

The main problem of most pastors in the country is that they lack the authority to perform their job effectively. This is so because they have a church council whose job was (originally) to make sure the pastors were following the tenants of the church. But over time, many have assumed the role of Chief Executive Officers, who pastors have to answer to for even the most routine administrative matters.

Although it’s not entirely the council’s fault since most are merely following the management practice of their predecessors. I have long felt it should delegate the church’s day-to-day management to its pastors so it could focus more on its original role as guardians of the Church’s mission goals.

I believe our church leaders and school teachers are the true heroes of our country. For they help instill in our people the time-tested Christian values of honesty, hard work, and love of country. Unfortunately, most people disagree, for they are still the most underpaid, overworked, and unappreciated work horses of our society. Think about this when you bring your child to school and go to church on Sundays.


Davao City has to suffer, if need be, for the Country
Atty. Jesus G. Dureza

September 3 - 9, 2016

This is not the first time Davao City was under attack. In the early '80s, the deadly communist "sparrow" units once held sway in some of our communities and spilled blood in our city streets. Then, San Pedro Cathedral was bombed one Easter Sunday. In 2003, Davao airport was also bombed. Then our Sasa wharf. Many died and scores wounded.

But in all these tragedies, Davao City survived. We rose from our feet every time. We did not allow the bad to dominate. We went on and resumed with our normal lives as quickly as possible, although still grieving and hurting. We strongly spurned and rejected the attempts of terrorists to dictate on us to disrupt our peaceful lives. We refused to be cowed or be consumed by fear. We did not want evil to win. Over time, Davao City, although wounded and scarred, prevailed.

The bombing today tells us once more that this is another time for us Dabawenyos to rise up and confront in order to again prevail. Davao City and its people have to suffer, if need be. But it is a small price to pay for the change that the whole country is dreaming of and yearning for.

Atty. Jesus “Jess” Dureza is currently the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Dureza was the former Chairman of the Philippine Press Institute and also served as Press Secretary under the Ramos and Arroyo administrations.





Editorial archives . . .


HNHS students hold big protest rally

ASAP’s G-Force to hold dance training

Provincial Library to get “facelift”

Federalism and Con-Ass consultations start

Fire month with new fire chief

Maasin coastal road starts 2017

Duterte orders 1st Mass holiday

Dr. Uytico lauds So. Leyte Division banner project

Three Centenarians to receive P100K each

“Earthquake fish” found in Libagon

Still no sign of missing diver

Ombudsman confirms decision against former town mayor

Maasin grabs 4th place in EVRAA 2017

Youth leaders hold leadership forum

Visayas media hold environmental forum

Carpenter returns money

Bayanihan saves blazing house

American diver still missing at Napantao

Tycoons to solve So. Leyte’s poverty

PNP on high NPA alert

Duterte's Php30 million for Limasawa port

SLSU goes for ISO certification

Guinsaugon tragedy 11 years later

Ombudsman to probe Php33 million in Pag-Ibig loans

Arcayan not Mercado’s bodyguard

NFA administrator visits hometown

Dropwire causes house fire

Retired teacher found dead in her room

Maasinhon is new NFA administrator

Landslides and flood

Living Hope improves medical services in So. Leyte

'5-6' loan sharks to be caught?

Three out of ten families still poor

Tokhang shoots one arrests, five

SLT Fearless 2017 forecasts

DTI offers free office

San Juan geothermal plant contract awarded


Death Penalty

Preventing a flood

Anatomy of Change


Overpriced basketball goals?

Jackstones/tetrapods or wavebreakers

Hot number 8888


Phone shop’s suspected robber apprehended

Pintuyan’s “Most Wanted” caught

Store merchandiser found dead in rented house


A Big Voice with a Big Heart

Tatay Mian celebrates 62nd birthday

There is forever for Estrella & Antonio


Abuse of priviledge

Online comments from netizens

Delayed salary of Bantay Dagat





|Home| |Opinion| |Zoom Lens|Business|Crime Watch| |Sports|Lifestyle |Archives| |Contact Us| |Feedback|