It is unfortunate that the grieving friend of murdered Palawan-based journalist Gerry Ortega has misdirected her wrath to the mining industry. I refer of course to ABS-CBN Foundation’s managing director Gina Lopez.
Letters to Mindanao joins the rest of the Filipino community in condemning the brutal slaying of Gerry Ortega and calls for the immediate resolution of this crime so that justice be meted out to those who have committed this gruesome act.
On the hand, Letters to Mindanao calls for sobriety and discernment. Let us not be quick to judge and pass blame to the mining industry, battered as it is already by the many misplaced criticisms hurled agains it in recent times.
We forgive Gina for succumbing too soon to the official line of the anti-mining groups. Even the Philippine mainstream media has for some time bought the propaganda of labeling the killing as another attack against anti-mining activists. Thankfully, the mainstream media rectified itself and now describes Ortega as an environmentalist and journalist who staunchly opposes graft and corruption in the Palawan government. We hope that Gina also gain her senses and see the real picture very soon.
Lest we forget that the Lopez empire was built on products or results of minerals extraction – the steel for the railways, the pipes for its water utilities, the bricks and mortars of its properties, the power lines of its power and energy generation and distribution business, the machines for its factories, and even its media conglomerate is highly dependent on mined materials used in cameras, computers, cellular phones, transmission lines, cable wires, television sets and many others.
Gina’s radical action that demonizes mining requires a radical response, using her own skewed logic. Should we call for the abolition of elections for the many election-related violence it has caused, and for the failure of the Comelec to administer a free and clean elections? Should we ban the use of motorized vehicles to solve carnapping? Should we abolish our military in view of the corruption scandals it is now embroiled in?
The rational mind in me says that if Gina’s contention that the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is being negligent with its duty to protect Palawan’s biodiversity, then we should take the PCSD to task and make it accountable for its actions. We should allow our institutions to mature and be made accountable for all its decisions. If fraud, graft or corruption has tainted its decisions to allow mining companies to operate within any of the protected areas, then the officials of PCSD should be made to explain. In the same way, mining companies that received its permit through fraudulent means should also face the brute force of law. Our call for justice for the death of Gerry Ortega should not be at the expense of legitimate industries. Our call for justice should not cause another injustice to anyone.
The sustainability equation gives equal concern for planet, profit and people. Our hope is that Gina Lopez, heir to the Lopez wealth and instrumental for rewarding us the likes of Noli de Castro, Willie Revillame and the mindless telenovelas (and extended TV watching habits that contributes to increase in power consumption and higher power rates) would find the time to grieve for the idiotization of the Filipino masses.