February 21, 2018, 1:20 pm
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I had a dream

LAST night I had a very interesting dream. It featured newly minted DENR secretary Roy Cimatu embarking on a fact-finding mission laden with charges and counter-charges and risk to life and limb.

My dream begins with an image of anti-mining forces gathering outside the gates of the DENR, carrying streamers and placards and tents which they pitch and in which some people camp out for days. The anti mining groups claim to be from an island called “Chikinini” which is under the threat of total environmental devastation from greedy irresponsible mining companies.Blood has been spilt on Chikinini, the antis claim, and the community is split. Worse the flora and fauna on the island is endangered while fishing and farming that can provide livelihood to the residents have been damaged totally by two decades of mining. Oh - mining also threatens to leave a hole so deep on the island that you can see China if you peer into it. At least that’s what they claim every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and
Saturdays the claim is that the island will be so diminished it will float off into the Pacific Ocean.

To the irritation of the protesters, Cimatu has not appeared before them to receive their petitions. So they turn to what they do best which is to call a press conference in a restaurant where they air their claims. With them is a socialite whose family by chance owns the r best biased TV and radio news network in the country, known to have a history of making or unmaking presidents depending on whether they please the family or not. So the antis get free air time because the Madam is part of their group. And they hit Cimatu for his inaction and his

In my dream I also see a group of about 200 people demonstrating this time in Tacloban, in front of the regional MGB office. In my dream they carry streamers that claim that they represent a majority of at least 85 percent of the island residents and that they are in favor of Responsible mining. They have a simple request - that the MGB and the DENR allow Responsible mining on their Island because that’s the only source of livelihood that can sustain them in their area where co-rals are dead from dynamite fishing and the island’s lateritic soil is no good for agriculture.

But guess what — no one pays heed to them: they don’t have a Madam who could help provide free air time. And who wants to write about pro mining anyway?

Finally in my dream Cimatu acts like the general that he is. He boards the latest supersonic spacecrafts and decides on his own to drop in on the contested island of Chikinini. His arrival, supposedly a secret, provokes a welcome party of over 400, with the people carrying the same streamers they carried In front of the Tacloban office of the MGB. And so Cimatu notes that the island people are indeed overwhelmingly pro mining.

He takes a tour of the Island and checks the coastlines. He takes pictures of covered courts that didn’t exist before. He inquires about scholarships and asks residents what would happen if the mining company leaves. He is told that mining would cover far less than half of the island not the whole island as claimed. And he speaks to one Barangay leader in his native ILOKANO, secure in the confidence of one from his native north.

It is a brief visit, but for Cimatu it is an eye opener. In my dream he addresses the nearly 400 residents assembled and sees feels and hears for himself the unvarnished Truth. Then be bids them goodbye, boards the spacecraft and in the blink of an eye is gone from the sight of the people of Chikinini.

That’s when I wake up. And I wonder - if this were not a dream, what would have been the Secretary’s take from it all?
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