NO light is seemingly on sight yet on the issue of Bohol water rights involving two LGU chief executives, a district representative, and a couple of groups and individuals. I was of the belief that upon my return from medical leave, there is already resolution on the table. On the contrary, complaints and counter complaints continue to pile up at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Recently, the Philippines Guardians Brotherhood (PGB) represented by Mr. Virgilio Abayabay of Ubay, Bohol filed a complaint of usurpation of authority, which was received by the OMB-Cebu Regional Office on November 7, 2023, against the Undersecretaries of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), the Senior State Counsel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and a Director at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Providing us the OMB received copy, Abayabay alleged in his notarized complaint that on January 23, 2023, respondents Undersecretaries Anna Rebuelta-Teh and Rosemarie Edillon of the DENR and Neda, respectively, DOJ Senior State Counsel Rosemarie Elena Laborte-Cuevas and DOST Director Juanito T. Batalon issued an order, as Members of the Board of NWRB, which “upheld the validity of the water permit previously issued by NWRB to Balilihan town in Bohol.”
However, Abayabay argued that while the permit validity is questionable, the PGB found out that the officials mentioned, who discussed, voted and signed “the same are not the ones officially designated by law to be members of the NWRB.”
Whereas, Executive Order 123 dated September 12, 2002 designated, specifically, who should compose the members of the water board. Further, in Section 2 pursuant to PD 424, the Board shall be composed of the DENR secretary, the Neda secretary as vice chair, with members coming from the DOJ, DOF, DOH, the Director of National Hydraulic Research Center and UP Executive Director, NWRB Secretariat. The names of these designated officials and customary signatories are nowhere in the order, Abayabay found out.
Usec Teh believes Richli Corp., a Bohol water firm and water right applicant in the disputed water source, is behind the complaint. “Richli Corp will not stop. I do not bother anymore to know they’re baseless accusations and lies.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ralph Lim, the Richli spokesperson, countered: “We have nothing to do with the Guardians complaint and [we are] patiently waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeals since our firm is the aggrieved party in the patently questionable and illegal order.”
“This is the first time in the long NWRB history that an official order was not signed by its Executive Director. The action of the respondents in acting as alleged representatives in the deliberation and signing of the said order is patently illegal and they are guilty of usurpation of official functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code,” according to PGB’s Abayabay.
Panglao resort owner, Mr. Grant Benedicto, despite seeing last quarter tourist arrivals higher, wish hitting the pre-pandemic level. But the water rights issue of parties appears not in resolve mode, putting the water supply of Bohol province at risk. Taking too long for the government to resolve, Boholanos now like to reach President Bongbong R. Marcos Jr.
PHL TikTok ban, up soon?
IT is about time that Tiktok loving Pinoys take a closer look at this video sharing app. Are they harmless as what many of us perceive it to be? Some countries have already imposed a total or partial ban on TikTok, expressing concern on its impact on society, including potential threat to their respective governments and national security. The Philippines is on the verge of deciding whether it will ban the platform, at least, in government-issued mobile phones and other gadgets to protect sensitive data that China could be accessing through the app.
National Security Adviser Edgardo Ano said the Task Force that he has created to investigate TikTok is looking at the app’s possible involvement in cyber espionage. By December, the public will know the fate of TikTok in the country. While many users may be unhappy if TikTok will be restricted locally, I believe that the country’s interest should be paramount in this case. As I said in my previous piece, my hope is that our government will decide for the best national interest of the Filipinos.
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