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Tragedy Of The Commons In Solong

The things we share as humans – air, water, land and other aspects of the natural world – that society shares among its members are generally referred to as commons. Garret Hardin (1968) expounded the phrase Tragedy of the Commons as to describe the result when industry does not take into account the cost of protection of the environment in the accounting of the price of a good or service.

The devastation wrought by the recent flash floods in Solong, San Miguel the other week clearly demonstrated one inconvenient truth: The Tragedy of the Commons in that upland barangay reared its ugly head. Nature, when abused suffers in silence. But the moment it gets mad, it strikes hard. Human technology are rendered inutile vis-à-vis its fury and magnitude of destruction.

Knowledgeable sources said the fate of impending environmental disaster in that upland barangay had been sealed initially by the construction of an access road for eco-tourism purposes. Accordingly, destroyed by that road cut through its verdant forests were 15 hectares of abaca plantation which FIDA had to phase out unfortunately.

Since then, landslides occurred gradually on the winding road up to the dam site. Unknown to the residents below were stockpile of excavated earth from the dam site which eventually eroded down the hapless unsuspecting residents when the three-hour thunderstorm brought with it heavy rains.

It would be safe to say then that that eco-tourism access road bided out by the DPWH regional office in the last quarter of 2006 and the mini-hydro project of the Sunwest Water Electric Co. (SUWECO) have caused that environmental damage. In fairness to the above-mentioned entities, illegal logging might have contributed to that environmental disaster.

Nevertheless, SUWECO’s quick response to said emergency deserves credit. But that is not enough.

It is SUWECO’s responsibility to immediately put into place appropriate mitigating measures to avoid, if not minimize further damage to life and property.

Their incoming measures would tell us whether SUWECO had actually prepared a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before they were issued ECC by the DENR.

That initial environmental disaster should serve as wake-up call to SUWECO, the DPWH, DENR and LGUs in general. It calls for a renewed commitment to environmentalism which subscribes to the idea that we human beings must see ourselves as a part of nature.

Environmental Education should make us realize that humans are but one link in the chain of living things, in fact, in the “great chain of being.”

Source: Bicol Peryodiko Editorial

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