Now that the five Protected areas of Palawan are back in the House version of the E – NIPAS bill ( as authored by Congresswoman Josephine Sato ), proponents for its exclusion have not given up hope. This must be a tall order for both Congressman Chikoy Alvarez and Congressman Erick Abueg. They must muster all their parliamentary skills to breathe life to their cause, and if need be, come up with a compromise measure fit for the unique requirements of Palawan. Congressman Douglas Hagedorn is on the other side of the divide, having worked for the restoration of the PAs during the executive session of the Committee on Natural Resources. In fact, he has claimed victory for his effort. Now that the battle lines are clearly drawn, expect more fireworks to come from the House.
But the biggest factor in this power configuration is Gov. JCA himself. The Governor could call on his vast network of friends and alliances in the House for the crucial support for the exclusion of the five PAs. On the other hand, the NGOs, which are for inclusion, are not mere push overs. They too have their own network of like- minded legislators who have shown propensity to take on any issue aligned with their core beliefs. Considering the high stakes involve, the protagonists will have to spare no quarters for the triumph of their respective position.
Meanwhile, amidst the flurry of debates and discussions, the ordinary Juans are bombarded with all kinds of “ad hominems” from those who have taken a strong position on the controversy. What should have been a sober discourse of an essentially environmental issue has gained political color which confused rather than convince. Unfortunately, all kinds of motives are imputed to just about anyone who has spoken on the issue. If politics is indeed local, this one has all its colors and flavors.
The consultations conducted by the SP Committee on Environment adroitly presided over by BM Al Rama, was not without its lighter side. A participant complained, in private though, that he came to be enlightened, only to leave the Committee hearing lost and bewildered. The resource persons and speakers were put to task for their failure to guide participants out of the myriad provisions of the E-NIPAS bill. This then is a case of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. More so, here is a classic example of shooting the messenger, not because of the message, but because of himself.