Good guys, bad guys

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Friday, May 30, 2014


EIGHT more to go and counting. That’s half of the number of industrial companies that comply with environmental laws and the DENR administrative orders.

So far, the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources yesterday said five firms in Negros Occidental are complying with environmental laws.

Among the good guys that complied are Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Co., López Sugar Corp., Sagay Central Corp., Distilleria de Bago, and Kooll company.
The Committee on Environment, has acted on complaints of health and environment problems spurred by some corporations’ waste management malpractices. It invited the EMB for a visit.

Not yet in the EMB list of good guys are Victorias Milling Company distillery that was reported to be emitting foul odor when it rains, affecting residents of Barangay Purisima, Manapla.

VMC is a repeat offender. In 2007, then DENR Secretary Ángelo Reyes ordered the company to stop operations until it corrects alleged environmental violations.

Then there’s the San Cárlos Bioenergy Inc. which was supposed to be the good guys. Yet it had to stop operations these past weeks after admitting that its waste ethanol has polluted the communities in San Cárlos City and Calatrava.

Too bad, the news reports failed to list the names of the non-compliant companies. No naming and shaming for now, I guess.

Let’s see what happens a month from now. Will the EMB have an expanded list of its good guys?

Maybe our government should also have a list of the best ecological guys, the best companies that have introduced the standards of the green economy.

For starters, let’s have more Negrense companies that have passed the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards.

ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 163 countries, one member per country. It is a non-governmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. Therefore, ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society.

To date, ISO has published over 19,000 international standards, on an average of 100 per month, covering a broad spectrum of issues, technologies and sectors, providing solutions in all three dimensions of sustainable development, environmental, economic and societal.

How many of our industrial plants such as sugar mills are ISO compliant? Unless, Google has yet to update itself, I didn’t find any among them.

Clearly, giving market forces a free rein to protect the environment is unfeasible. There will have to be State regulation and a dynamic tension between it and business to make a green economy work.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development noted that in the past, industrialized nations became rich by using the world’s natural resources in a profligate manner, with little regard for the environment.

Under the polluter pays principle, the State is compelling these companies to pay the price of having to clean up the damage they have caused by polluting the space in which they live.

Except for a few, Negros Occidental is not rich to begin with. The province cannot afford this kind where a few get rich at the expense of our fragile environment and the welfare of other communities. It cannot afford to develop the local economy by sacrificing the environment and social benefits of other Negrenses.

Congratulations to SP environment committee head Patrick Lacson for doing a good job.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 30, 2014.

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