Da Daily Donkey Award goes to those responsible for former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza's appointment as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Is it a lapse in judgment? Or is it a reward for loyalty? Or is there something in the works here? Hmmmm.
- A loyal presidential ally once accused of felling a forest in the heart of Manila was appointed as environment secretary. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed one of her fierce defenders, former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, to replace Angelo Reyes.
A-Kid: You have gotta to be shittin' me! I know loyalty has a strange way of affecting one's commitment and decisions, but this is absurd! It's totally ridiculous! To The Person Who Cannot Be Named: For love of God and country, stay flexible in your approach! Please!
- Reyes will move to the energy department as part of a Cabinet “rigodon” which now appears to be in full swing despite earlier denials from Malacañang.
A-Kid: It's all about loyalty. And it's making me sick!
- News of Atienza’s elevation as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources shocked environmentalists, who dubbed him “The butcher of Arroceros.”
A-Kid: Mind you, Atienza is not only a butcher. Please give credit where credit is due. Do you remember his so-called efforts to revive Manila? He placed street lights one (1) meter apart from each other! Now, that's a nifty way of conserving precious energy resources and beautifying everything. One meter apart - can you believe this guy?! And oh! He also closed Avenida Rizal to vehicular traffic. Guess what happened to the businesses there. Yeah, there are still niche opportunities surrounding the area, e.g., snatching and prostitution.
For crying out loud, Atienza cannot even clean up streets of road obstructions and properly enforce zoning laws! How can The AnitoKid and the Filipino people expect the former mayor to protect the country's environment and natural resources?
- “It’s incredible. This would be a disaster for the whole country because his track record on environment compliance leaves much to be desired,” according to Regina Paterno, president of Winner Foundation, a nongovernment organization that is running the Arroceros Forest Park in Manila.
A-Kid: We're in trouble now - big trouble! That's just a tiny city forest for yesterday's count. Tomorrow, its the whole's country's natural resources that's up for grabs.
- As Manila mayor, Atienza in 2003 enraged environmentalists when he ordered the closure of the Arroceros park to give way to the building of an education office and a teacher’s dormitory, sparking a lawsuit.
A-Kid: Talk about efforts to revive and modernize Manila at the same time! All nonsensical! Tsk.
- Environmentalists wanted the park preserved for being one of the few patches of greenery in a badly polluted city scarred with decaying buildings and houses. Atienza’s successor as mayor, Alfredo Lim, reopened the park to the public after assuming office.
A-Kid: Thanks Uncle Fred!
- “The reason for moving (people in) the Cabinet is only available to the President herself,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said. “Remember, our dictum in the Cabinet is -- Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President.”
A-Kid: Yeah, Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President. But at the expense of the Filipino people.
- Ermita denied the revamp was a form of “political payback,” telling reporters that Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla “has been asking (for it) since last year.”
A-Kid: Now, this is a subtle way of saying that the revamp, and whatever the outcome of it may be, is all Lotilla's fault. Yeah! Why not blame it all on Lotilla! Ermita, do you honestly believe that the reporters believe you? Man! Lotilla has been sucked into the government for 20 years! You could have just blamed everything on the rain!
- To demands from the Malacañang Press Corps for an explanation for the latest Cabinet changes, Ermita said: “Look, I thought I’m just doing my duty here by announcing to you some (appointments), but you’re asking me why.”
A-Kid: Knock! Knock! The last time I've checked, you're the Executive Secretary. It's your duty to be asked questions and answer them.
- Asked about Atienza’s qualifications, “Why, is there anything wrong about ex-Mayor Atienza? Definitely, the President would not choose a Cabinet member to occupy a certain position if the President thinks he cannot handle that,” said Ermita.
A-Kid: Hee hee hee! Is there anything wrong? Har-dee-har-har! Ermita, you make me laugh! Bwa he he he!
- The Union of Local Government Authorities and Governors’ League welcomed Atienza’s appointment. “We welcome the decision of President Arroyo to appoint Atienza as DENR secretary not only because of his competence and integrity but he will also serve as the voice of the local government units in the Cabinet,” said Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone, spokesperson of the two powerful groups.
A-Kid: Believe you me when I say that the two groups just got more powerful.
- Ermita made it clear that Atienza was not being rewarded for his allegiance to Ms Arroyo, whose controversial acts included banning rallies at the historic Don Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) Bridge.
A-Kid: Yeah, and I'm Bugs Bunny.
- “I don’t think so. Every time an appointment is made, people will be asking those questions,” he said, citing the fact that at least 12 members from the House of Representatives had been appointed into the Cabinet. "Then you will ask, is that a political payback? Not really. The President goes by who she thinks can help her in running government.”
A-Kid: It goes without saying that people have the right to ask questions. After all, this is a democracy. Hey, this is a democracy, right?
- It was also during Atienza’s time that an old heritage building in the center of the city, Jai Alai, came down.
A-Kid: One powerful swoop was all that was needed. Revive Manila! Forget about city forests! Destroy historic buildings and landmarks! What a battlecry! Yee-haa!
- Ermita said Ms Arroyo’s economic team was intact.
A-Kid: Whose economic team? Theirs? Or the nation's?
Am I worrying too much? Our country is constantly being raped by graft and corruption and the lack of better judgment from our elected leaders. The top post at the DENR is one of the most coveted positions in the land. With it comes great power and great responsibility. Why appoint the former mayor, Lito Atienza? IS HE that competent? THAT honest? IS HE the only one fit for the post? Let me just ask it again, IS HE FIT FOR THE POST? And I kid you not when I say,