Rules, like promises, are made to be broken

Time and again, people have proven that they are prone to breaking the law and whatever guidelines that the government has crafted to benefit majority of its constituents.

Even during this coronavirus pandemic, recent incidents have demonstrated the capacity of some people, including those who created the law in the first place and those tasked to implement it, to violate it.

Most of these transgressions we attribute to a basic human instinct to take shortcuts, especially when one feels there is no one who sees him doing it.

But others are born out of a need to protect themselves or their loved ones, as in the case of two officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) who allegedly brought their kids straight to their homes after arriving from Manila, without having the local health officials conduct an assessment of their residences as far as suitability for home quarantine is concerned.

Then there are those who feel they are duty-bound to grant a favor to a friend or ally, closing their eyes to the possibility that, if they are caught, the consequences to their reputations would be damaging especially in this age of the netizen.

Into a separate category belongs persons who, by nature or necessity, learn the law specifically in order to exploit its flaws or loopholes. Their number is uncountable and includes many politicians long used to the fact that they don’t need to do the bad deed by themselves.

That is why no vote-buying politician in this Happy Island is never even prosecuted or found guilty of this rampant violation of election laws.

Which brings us to the issue of the Palnab Shipyard, Inc., its proposed ship repair facility that would provide employment to local residents, and its alleged destruction of an island reef and mangrove area.

What has been established so far is this: its contractor, JC Cua Group of Companies, began its construction activity at the site without the necessary permits, including the required Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), and during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period.

The finding of the Virac Municipal Environment and Natural Resource Officer-designate, whose actual position in the local government unit is that of a market supervisor, is valid but not necessarily correct.

The alleged removal of 70 square meters of coral seabed as well as damage to a portion of the existing mangrove area need to be validated by technical experts of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

His recommendation to Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr. to precisely seek the assistance of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and other concerned units should have been acted upon as soon as it was received on May 12, 2020.

Instead, the chief executive waited for the Sangguniang Bayan to act on the matter, with the councilors rightfully throwing the issue back at the mayor’s office for executive action.

Why the MENRO-designate furnished a copy of the report to the councilors is a mystery, despite his recommendation to the mayor that the SB conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation. There are already enough laws governing the protection of the environment and there is no need to craft one specifically saving “Kinaw” from destruction.

Last Friday, a team from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) went to the site to investigate the MENRO findings and the report is expected to be released anytime this week.

It is of no concern whether the governor erred in signing the letter that identified him as president of the JC Cua Group of Companies, or that a political opponent prodded the DENR regional office to conduct a probe of the Kinaw incident.

What everyone needs to see if any of the allegations are true and if the DENR, as well as the Virac LGU, will impose appropriate fines and penalties on the erring company.

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