Sunday, January 29, 2012

Congratulations, Councilor

I see that you have finally made a statement regarding the issue - it's about time. I congratulate you for that.

I must say though that, well, you lost me at "your wrong opinion."

The issue about SM's plans was brought to the public's attention (or at least, my attention) in the early days of this month. On January 8, 2012, a petition was started by Michael Bengwayan which spread like wildfire all over the internet. I, as a member of the community, was shocked - how can they get away with the virtual murder of 182 pine trees at a time when Baguio is still reeling from a devastating garbage slide and the numerous landlsides before that? Not to mention the recent natural disaster that claimed hundreds of lives in Mindanao? I looked to you (not you personally, but you - Baguio's leaders) for guidance, for an explanation, for some kind of justification - you were elected to protect our welfare, work for our well-being.

A week passed, and then another, and there was hardly anything from you (not you personally, but you - Baguio's "public servants"). A rally was organized, stil no word from you. The rally happened, and still nothing from anyone of you (the presence of people and institutions connected to you is NOT AN ACHIEVEMENT YOU SHOULD TAKE CREDIT FOR).

I didn't want you to say you were on our side, nor did I want you to defend SM City Baguio's expansion plans. I was at a loss, and looked to you (again, not you personally) to shed light on the issue. Afterall, you should know better - you were elected to serve the people. Whichever side you were on, I was more curious about why you chose to be on that side.

I see you (all of you) a lot in the newspapers, on TV, I hear you on the radio - you're all quick to consider any form of mass media as a "proper forum" when trumpeting your truimphs. There's nothing wrong with that, I, as a resident of Baguio, love hearing about the good that all of you do. So I was totally shocked when hardly any one of you came forward to make statement about the issue. I can shut up about it. My neighbor can say nothing about it. The driver of the jeepney I rode this morning can not have an opinion about it - but not you. You owe it to the people to make a stand. It didn't matter which side of the political fence you're on - your position is a public trust, it is your responsibility to make a stand (hopefully for the greater majority's good) I hope you have not forgotten that.

And that's why I was suprised, scared even to receive a personal message from you (now I mean you, personally). You took offense at my status update that stated:

To the people Baguio voted for in the last election - you're quick to pose for a photo pretending to plant trees during tree planting photos ops, professing to be defenders of the environment to the media, making your presence felt in Facebook pages that advocate the protection of the environment such as Kafagwayan - Park Capital of the Philippines, etc. - Park Capital of the Philippines, etc. - YOUR SILENCE ON THE ISSUE OF THE PLANNED MASS MURDER OF TREES UP ON LUNETA HILL IS UNACCEPTABLE AND SUSPECT!

Did I mean YOU personally? Yes, you and the rest of you that the people elected to care for the people's welfare. You're message, in part, said, "I think you had a different opinion of me, and have influenced others with your WRONG OPINION." (caps mine).

Now that's scary - an opinion being wrong simply because you don't agree with it. How is my opinion that "YOUR SILENCE ON THE PLANNED MASS MURDER OF TREES UP ON LUNETA HILL IS UNACCEPTABLE AND SUSPECT" wrong? In that lengthy exchange of messages, I asked you repeatedly what your stand is on the issue of SM's expansion, and you answered with your impeccable environmental efforts in the past. I asked again and again, but you only answered with how you have planted way more trees than most Filipinos (bravo!) in the past - still you dodged the question - where do you stand as far as SM's expansion plan is concerned?

You told me that you will do so "in the proper forum." Why is the internet a proper forum for letting the people know of your "environment-friendly efforts" but not for making a stand on the SM issue?

Did you see my last status? -

"I am Karlo Marko Altomonte, an artist, a father and a resident of Baguio, and I hereby PUBLICLY DECLARE that I am against the earthballing/relocation of trees up on Luneta Hill to pave the way for SM City Baguio's expansion project.

(now how hard is that, dear Public Servants? No, declaring you're an environmentalist and is generally against the cutting of trees and have planted trees in the past does not state your position on the matter. And yes, THIS IS A PROPER FORUM)"

Have you seen how many people from all walks of life have put that as their status? It's that easy if one had principles and the conscience and courage to stand up for them.

You did say that you sent private messages to certain people stating your position. Lucky for those people, at least they knew where you stood. But as for us, we had no idea until your lengthy position statement you published today. SO I GUESS FACEBOOK IS A PROPER FORUM AFTER ALL? What took you so long?

For the record, I take offense, and it scares me even, to be singled out by an elected official out of the thousands who've been cursing all of you for your silence.

Better late than never, though. So, CONGRATULATIONS, COUNCILOR! for finally making a stand. But as I said, you lost me at "wrong opinion." But I believe I had you at "YOUR SILENCE ON THE PLANNED MASS MURDER OF TREES UP ON LUNETA HILL IS UNACCEPTABLE AND SUSPECT."

But don't worry about losing me, you never had me. I didn't vote for you.

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