As a leader, one must know when to attack and when to surrender.  A good leader must have principles which must not only to be morally upright, but knows what is right and must have the conviction to stand by it.

Davao Today

One word is enough for a wise man (woman).  And one action or inaction could sum him (her) up in all parts.  It is through one’s action and conviction that one could ascertain what matters most in one’s life.  And in one’s conviction, a leader’s action or inaction can prove how worthy he (she) is to be called a great leader and how shameful it is to be called him (her) such.

Though generally unpracticed in our country, Earth Day is important to us who value the environment.  But I could not say that it’s just as important to our head of state, President Noynoy Aquino.  And because lives are unimportant to him, naturally, his convictions reflect how unstable, untrustworthy and unwise he is.

We who seek to protect our territory, our environment and natural resources have again find ourselves in an environmental and political quagmire as the boat of Chinese poachers ran aground the famous Tubbataha Reef weeks ago.  Yet, as predicted and as usual, the government failed to assert our territorial sovereignty by letting those Chinese poachers go scot-free.  It was already stated that President Aquino has clarified that the government will not seek accountability from the Chinese government for the incident.  They say it is for nurturing “international peace and relations.”  I say it’s bull****!

A simple transgression of the law may warrant a simple sanction or penalty.  The running aground of a foreign vessel, a Chinese boat for that matter, in a World Heritage Site like the Tubbataha Reef is a very grave offense.  And all the Chinese got was a smile on the President’s face, a criminal charge and a wave goodbye.  Not even a diplomatic protest or a vile threat to “stay away from our lands!” could be heard from our poor President who has neither guts nor conviction to fight for our territory.

It is clear that the President doesn’t value our territory and our country.  In fact he has devaluated it.  When the US Navy was unfortunate to have one of its vessels ran aground in Hawaii before, it paid the government of Hawaii a total of USD 15 Million for the compensation of 8,000 square meters of damaged reef and a restoration value of USD 20-45 Million.  But when the USS Guardian damaged the world-renowned much-preserved reef, President Aquino only asked for a measly USD 1.4 Million.

Yeah, that’s how much he devalues our land, that’s how much he cheapens our territory, that’s how much he fails to recognize the beauty and importance of Tubbataha Reef — a Pinoy pride and environmental treasure.

History does repeat itself.  And it will do so until one has learned his (her) lesson.  And in this case, history will continue to smack the President in the head, until he has no hair left, at our expense and to the detriment of us all.

From the Chinese attack in our Scarborough Shoal to the USS Guardian grounding in Tubbattaha and now the Chinese poachers in the same area — acts of aggression which endangered the Filipinos’ claim of sovereignty and protection of territory — President Aquino has cowered in fear against the bully of superpowers, China and America.  He has rendered himself incapable of defending our home, our pride.  He has branded himself a weakling in the face of adversity at the pretext of international diplomacy.  That is why environmental protection laws fail to make the cut in Congress.

The implementation of anti-mining laws continue to be a joke, a law without no teeth against large-scale mining corporations which are out to scalp the mountains and suck the gold and minerals out of them.  Denuding the forests, acid upon acid poured on our rivers and lakes, escalating human rights violations in the hinterlands and tribal villages, agricultural aggression and conversion of farmlands into industrial areas, these are but a few of the environmental problems which must be addressed by the Aquino administration.  But I am not surprised why these remain to be solved.  President Aquino cannot even solve the Tubbataha issue, what more of these massive issues affecting our economy, environment and politics today?

The rules must be, for the love of life and the environment, clearly laid down for these encroachers.  President Aquino must impose higher fines for violations, implement stricter penalties and to impel just compensation and monetary valuation on the damages of the marine and forest biodiversity.  There must be an increase in vigilance and cooperation in local and national officials in executing these rules and regulations, more budget allocation for facilities and park rangers for security and protection of these sanctuaries or areas.

As a leader, one must know when to attack and when to surrender.  A good leader must have principles which must not only to be morally upright, but knows what is right and must have the conviction to stand by it.

In the name of good governance, economic progress and political and economic relations, the protection of environment may not be on most leaders’ agenda, and especially not on President Aquino’s.  But when sovereignty is attacked and our territory is on the line, one must not bow down to diplomacy alone, but must stand on one’s principle that any act of encroachment upon our lands, any act of demoralization upon our people, any act of degradation on our environment and territory, must be considered a crime against the Filipino people.

The environment may not be important on Aquino’s agenda.  But it is important to the majority of the Filipinos.  And what one will give to the environment, to the earth, so it is what we will reap.

One word is enough for a wise man (woman).  And one action is enough to sum him (her) up in all parts.  But with the way President Aquino is dealing with these gigantic environmental issues and how he is addressing the Tubbataha Reef protection, in which two vessels ran aground twice in a row in such a short time, one must infer that there must really be something wrong with his administration.

Beverly Ann S. Musni, Yr. is a free spirit.   She is a wanderlust, a dreamer and a frustrated rock star who dreams of travelling the world one day.  She is a world peace advocate.

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