DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 March) — BANANAS REJECTED — There are new dangers facing our banana industry and this can be due to our government’s mishandling of the Spratly’s issue with China.
I gathered the Chinese suddenly did not allow entry of a big shipment of SUMIFRU from Mindanao citing quarantine issues. I suspect this is not about “pests” or quality of the fresh fruits. It’s all about politics. I am bothered at the way public statements are issued by Malacanang and officials. They’re not in the usual balanced, cool and diplomatic tones. They sound belligerent.
Banana Foundation chief Steve Antig said losing the China market involves 70 million boxes a year, 20,000 hectares and about 60,000 employees, direct and indirect, losing their jobs.
Mishandling by our government of diplomacy with China on the Spratly’s issuewill put us all in trouble.
ATENEO LETTER — Two issues ago, I wrote in this corner about my personal dismay on how Ateneo de Davao University new president and rector, Fr Joel Tabora, SJ bypassed Ateneo’s board of trustees in unduly and unilaterally converting the Ateneo campus into an exclusive haven for the anti mining sector in a recent mining forum. Worse, Ateneo not only excluded but even evicted pro-mining persons. I thought all along that Ateneo was open to all diverse views and was a free market of ideas.
A letter to the editor was sent by Fr. Tabora’s assistant accusing me of publishing an “outright lie” and denied that there was such an eviction. I wrote back to Ateneo and told them I am an “old fashioned ” reporter. Icheck my facts before I write. A case in point: a communications man from Manila related to me how he went through such an embarrassing experience. He was told to leave the room when the organizers spotted him inside the venue without a registration badge on his shirt lapel. He was already inside the venue for a while. He first argued that he came because he thought (erroneously) that it was open to the public and he was there merely to listen and not express his views. But he was told to leave nevertheless. Then I got another email recently which said that Mr. John Doughty also went through the same travail. He arrived at the venue with a Canadian guest who was warmly welcomed with open arms. However, John was asked to leave by the organizers . When he checked later why his Canadian companion was allowed to stay, he found out that the Canadian guest was anti-mining. John , unfortunately for him , was not!
The Ateneo assistant letter-writer sounded like other anti mining elements: cocky and parading themselves as if they have the exclusive monopoly of the truth, love of country and care for the environment.No further comment.
POWER SHORTAGE — The shortage of power causing brownouts in some areas in Mindanao is worrisome. We must have more generating capacities. It takes at least 5 years from start of construction before a new power plant becomes operational. Note that our water levels in Lake Lanao are still ok. Expect the worse with the onset of summer months. Mindanao’s power is more than50% hydro mainly from the Agus plants in Lanao and the Pulangi hydros inBukidnon. Note the sudden spike in your electric bills.
NUR MISUARI — What’s this I heard about a walk-out by the MNLF panel in the recent meeting in Bandung, Indonesia during the review of the implementation of the GRP-MNLF 1996 peace agreement? Iwas told it triggered the re-unification of the MNLF under Nur Misuari’s leadership.
In the meantime, reports about the ongoing peace talks with the MILF do not look encouraging. This is a crucial period. The Palace must handle this adroitly. (Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008), later Press Secretary, Presidential Legal Counsel and chair of the Mindanao Development Authority. He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc. and is now publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW).