• Separating the fake from the real green warriors

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    The environment has become a cause that numerous personalities have come to defend, and rightly so.

    Former US Vice President Al Gore, for one, is a known environmentalist AKA green warrior. Had he been elected US president, Gore would have likely done more to save the environment than any other world leader.

    Here in the Philippines, there are not only personalities but also organizations devoted to saving the world, which our children and grandchildren will inherit from us.

    With the opening of the next Congress, we expect that those who ran on a green platform pay more than lip service to the cause. The rookie lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives should do well to dig into the various environmental disasters that were man-made, as well as the anomalies uncovered by official agencies involving large-scale eco-friendly projects.

    One such questionable green project that congressional probers should look into is the supposed rehabilitation of the Pasig River, which the Commission on Audit (COA) said was a bungled job that wasted P17.7 million of taxpayers’ money.

    The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, the agency in charge of the cleanup, rendered useless millions of pesos worth of recycling equipment because it was able to build only one functioning materials recovery facility (MRF) out of the 10 it had committed to set up over the last four years, according to the COA’s 2012 report on the project.

    COA said the MRFs were necessary to pave the way for the establishment of clean river zones along the historic Pasig River. The company that bagged the contract in 2009 to build the MRFs was able to construct only four, of which only one was working.

    Another green project that should be looked into are the irregularities surrounding the income-sharing scheme for the La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City.

    Some years ago, The Manila Times exposed questionable sales of lots inside the ecopark. Today, it seems that the scammers and faux green warriors are back in the game.

    The COA discovered that the income-sharing scheme for the project was not followed, with the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI), the private partner in the operation of the ecopark, grabbing the profits intended for the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). The MWSS and the Quezon City government are also co-operators of the park.

    A memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed among the three entities stated a profit sharing of 40 percent of net income for MWSS, 30 percent for AFI and 30 percent for the QC government.

    But a 2011 COA report on the La Mesa Ecopark operations showed that while the project earned P22 million in net income from 2004 to the first half of 2009, the MWSS’s share of P8.3 million “has not been remitted.”

    The state auditor also found out that AFI managed to get a bigger share of the profits, which is beyond the terms stated in the MOA, because it had deducted 15 percent from the gross revenues of the ecopark operations as “management fee.”

    However, no supporting document was presented to show approval by either the MWSS Board of Trustees or La Mesa Executive Board on the 15 percent management fee being charged by the AFI, according to the COA.

    The country’s real green warriors should take the cue from there.

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