Monday, August 18, 2014
ACACIA TREES IN CEBU, they grow old, they fall. Some are cut. Some are saved. Public opinions they differ, swaying back and forth. The pros and the cons. A greater part of me prefer that they stay or get balled or pruned. Some trees are sick, I believe so, standing guardian-like, mute witnesses of history on the route that pass by them from Naga to Carcar. But can they be saved?
Those who believed that it can be done – a resounding YES! Those who believed that it cannot be done – a bullyish NO! As sure as Peter walked on water, my friend Chad Bacolod took a side. It was a personal choice. It was a choice borne out of his familiarity with the environment where he thrived in of which trees play a crucial part. He choose to take sides with the acacia trees that had been a fixture at his hometown of Naga since he was a tottering tot.
Chad is a true gentleman of the outdoors. His passion of the outdoors pushes him to venture outside of his comfort zone to enjoy it during weekends with friends. His greater freedom among hills allowed him to see the bigger picture of this unstable world we called home threatened by climate change, overpopulation and shrinking water resources. Misguided developments caused by indiscriminate cutting of trees have caused so much of our present troubles.
These, he sees even beyond the wide glass pane of his workplace, which he loved to call as a “12-feet by 4-feet flat TV with one channel”. He might have meant this window to the one-tracked-mind policy of his employer – the Department of Public Works and Highways – which has a long history of indiscriminate cutting of such trees. Yes, he worked in a DPWH weighbridge station located at Minglanilla as a temporary employee.
His advocacy in protecting the acacia trees got him on a collision course against the policy of his employer, the DPWH, and the powers that be in the Municipality of Naga, the Cebu Provincial Government and the Philippine National Government. His participation in a rally presided by Fr. Robert Reyes last August 8, 2014, got the ire of his bosses, when his side won, leaving the government agencies concerned with a big slap in the face.
That defeat got more painful when a big rally to create awareness on the plight of the acacia trees was hatched on August 10 from Naga to Carcar, involving more people, and putting more salt on a smouldering wound. Then, all of a sudden, without any explanations, Chad’s employment with the DPWH was hastily terminated. For what? For being the champion of the speech-less acacia trees? For exercising his right to freedom of expression as a mere participant and for his comic statements in a social network site? Oh, come on.
His termination, done without giving him his right of due process, is a violation of his rights, fully guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution. Whatever administrative rules you may have in DPWH, it does not supersede that basic law. It never had and it never will. Under the Civil Service Law, Chad is also entitled to those rights and his security of tenure even if he is just a temporary employee. I believe the Regional Director of the DPWH-7 and the District Engineer of the 1st Engineering District has a lot of explaining to do.
Chad had never been a fugitive of justice nor embroiled in a morality issue. In fact, what he did was championing the cause of a higher order of morality – that of protecting the acacia trees from being cut – which is not really our exclusive right but those of the next generations per se. His actions bespeak of his unsullied character that had been exemplary for as long as I have known him and tested during the time of a river incident in Alegria.
He is a communicator with RECON-MACE 7, an active climber-member of the Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines, a co-founder of the Enthusiasts of Cebu Outdoors, a member of the Visayan Trekkers Forum, an ardent learner of bushcraft under my tutelage at Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild, a volunteer of several outreach events and relief missions, an environmentalist and a family man. He is all these and for being all these, he is persecuted by DPWH-7 and by politics within his office. A victim of retarded and myopic minds.
Justice is a fair lady and, through her, Chad will have his recourse. This blog will use its space to right a wrong; to forward a message to the DPWH hierarchy to consider Chad’s case. Cutting of trees would not had been an issue should the government asked consensus of the many or that they just had done their job well. We know it stands in the way of development and a road right-of-way project but there is no reason to cut it if they would have exhausted all their creative minds to spare its destruction. We know some trees are old but they knew that also and did not act on it until two trees fell recently.
Chad had nothing to do with the acacias. It was the government’s fault after all. Chad was just expressing his unbelief at how a row of heritage trees became a scapegoat at the government’s ineptness. Chad did what he had to do to save those trees and he became a scapegoat as well from the very agency that was tasked to maintain the highways of which he was connected. The manner by which Chad was terminated does not speak well of the professionalism and honesty of the DPWH hierarchy.
Chad had not used government time to participate in a rally with fellow environmentalists. He was off duty. What he says or expressed are of his own opinion. DPWH and the national government, for that matter, has no control over the minds and hearts of its people because we are not a socialist country like China or North Korea. We are in a free country and we have that right to ask grievances and retributions too. It was very unfair with the way you treated a good guy like Chad Bacolod.
Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer