As expected, the highly controversial provincial ordinance declaring a one year suspension of the province as mining free zone was doomed ab initio, due to the following infirmities:

         [1] The barangay leadership who initiated the request /resolution did not follow/observe protocol probably due to sheer ignorance and/or abuse of authority. Bypassed by the barangay council, the honorable executive and legislative bodies, were deprived of  their mandated functions to  scrutinize, review, and study the merit of the case at hand. Their knowledge and consent were denied, in fact, disrespected with impunity.

          [2] DENR/PENRO provincial/regional office were not invited by the provincial government and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to shed light on this matter. Apparently, the issue is primarily the concern of the Department of Energy [DOE], and later by the DENR/Provincial/Regional office/EMB when the operation begins.

          [3] In our exclusive interview earlier with Panganiban Vice Mayor Alvin Atencia, he revealed that SB Panganiban had sent a communication letter to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan several months regarding their stand on this coal mining activity. Unfortunately, their sound initiative/move fall on deaf ears and numbed sensibilities in that august body of men and sole lady.

          Truly, the Vice Governor, as presiding officer,  and all honorable PBMs, except one, did not anticipate the immediate renunciation of such infamous provincial ordinance sponsored by two Ex-Officio Members/PBMs.

           In separate initiative, it doesn’t matter who did it first, the Most Rev. Manolo A. De Los Santos, Bishop, Diocese of Virac wrote a very carefully, scholarly worded, impassioned, “ AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN NG CATANDUANES. ”

            The “CATANDUANES KONTRA MINA MOVEMENT”took the cudgel with the indefatigable environmental advocate, MR. ANDY PO, as the provincial convenor. Sprouting like mushrooms, the 11 municipalities had their respective leaders in place.

             Taking a cue on the controversial issue raging like wildfire,  the Catanduanes State University [CatSU] under the leadership of working President Patrick Alain T. Azanza, hosted a “Public Forum on Mining in Catanduanes: Boon or Bane?”.             

             Some neutral pundits said with conviction and seriousness, [1]“Last hurrah na kutana, sumemplang pa yong dalawang Ex-Officio/PBM sponsors. Nadamay, pa tuloy and mga betereno at newphyte legislators.” One PBM was quoted as saying , “maripot, maringawan sana iyan”. Probably, yes, come election time in May 2025, if and when,  when vote-buyers and vote-sellers are on the loose with impunity.

             But beware! By that appointed time, the Comelec and its deputized agencies—AFP, PNP, etc. would have come out with a comprehensive plan to ensure a clean, honest, and peaceful election, and to deter the intervention of lawless elements.

                                                               * * * *     

               Finally, science-based facts, rule of law, and public clamor/ opinion prevailed. No less than the Vice Governor, Peter ‘Boste’ C. Cua , in a privileged speech, officially initiated the  eventual repeal of “PROVINCIAL ORDINANCE NO. 02-2023 entitled “AN ORDINANCE TEMPORARILY SUSPENDING THE IMPLEMENTAION OF PROVINCIAL ORDINANCE NO. 006-2013, ENTITLED, “AN ORDINANCE DECLARING THE PROVINCE OF CATANDUANES A MINING-FREE-ZONE” TO ALLOW SMALL SCALE MINING OR COAL ONLY”.

                By the repeal of that controversial provincial ordinance by the SP,   the inhabitants of the Happy Island  happy, with the monicker “LAND OF THE HOWLING WINDS” have proud, happy and satisfied  once again.

                 As promised, this week’s column features the recently concluded “4th Virac Pasalinggaya 2003” held on December 9, 2023, at Plaza Rizal Covered Court. Reliable source reported that more or less 30,000 attended said event which lasted up to past 10:00 p.m.

                  Major raffle tickets , in blue color, were provided to at around 2:00 p.m. A very long stretch of two-lined would-be-ticket holders discouraged me from falling in line with the crowd. Anyway, my esposa mia , was already one of them, and another reason, “Hindi ako masyadong suwertehen sa mga ganong pa-raflle espreketeks.”

                  Earlier family heads were given one raffle ticket all barangays and additional raffle per 1.5- sized bottle of soft-drinks filled with all kinds of plastics. Every three 1.5 sized bottles were given one raffle ticket and one kg. good quality rice. I know because, in our household alone, we produced 12 bottles and given more than 3kgs of rice.  Just imagine the number tons of plastic gathered/generated by that solid waste management strategy. It made Virac environs a lot cleaner—free of all kinds of plastics—except plastics of the human species.