Stink—in Bilibid and out of it
President Duterte didn’t have to bring up the name of Sen. Leila de Lima in the course of trying to weather the imbroglio stirred by the (thankfully) aborted release of convicted rapist and killer Antonio Sanchez.
In the wake of revelations made about the “arrangements” for Sanchez’s undeserved release, a Senate inquiry pried open the proverbial can of worms. It turns out that aside from Sanchez, dozens of other high-profile prisoners, including those found guilty of heinous crimes, had been released through the gross misuse and abuse of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law. This included the massive corruption by officials of the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), including dismissed Duterte favorite Nicanor Faeldon.
Then, it turns out that several high-profile drug lords had been released from Muntinlupa and transferred to the headquarters of the Marines. One other thing they had in common? They all had testified against De Lima.
The reason given by the President is absurd beyond belief. This was to “protect” the drug lords because the senator supposedly still has a cabal of supporters within the NBP.
Note that Senator De Lima has been kept in detention for more than two years, deprived of the most basic amenities with hardly any contact with the outside world, save through handwritten notes given to the few visitors allowed her.
“Baloney! Hilarious!” said the senator in a statement. In a recent gathering held not just to celebrate her 60th birthday but also to press for her immediate release, followers pointed out the continuing violation of her human rights in defiance of basic international standards of justice.
That even she is now being dragged into the entire GCTA controversy shows just how desperate the Duterte administration has become in the wake of this stink of its own making.
While the President recently threatened to wage war against Canada if it refused to “repatriate” shipping containers filled with garbage, he might be happy to know that the Philippines might soon be “shipping” our garbage to other parts of the world—albeit in the form of aviation fuel.
Recently in town was Trevor Neilson, co-founder and CEO of i(x) Investments, which advises global firms and well-known philanthropists in managing investments in ventures that, said Neilson, combine “reasonable returns and measurable social impact.”
One such venture is Wastefuel of America, which has devised a technology that converts municipal solid waste into aviation fuel. Wastefuel has existing plants in various stages of development in the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Panama and Brazil. The Philippines will be hosting the first such operation in Asia.
Three reasons are given by Wastefuel for the choice of the country. First is that the country has an “abundance” of waste; there is massive demand for aviation fuel locally; and the Philippines is strategically located to export fuel to key aviation hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.
Perhaps a fourth reason is that Neilson is married to Evelin, a Filipino, who realized after news of the trash shipment from Canada that “waste is valuable,” and that her home country was worth investing in. Sharing her sentiments is Andrew Masigan, an entrepreneur and business journalist who “bought into” Wastefuel’s vision when he interviewed Neilson some years back. Masigan has since signed on as Wastefuel’s local partner and booster.
Wastefuel is currently eyeing a plant site near the San Mateo landfill that processes trash from all over Metro Manila. They are working with ISWIMS, a private company that has been managing the San Mateo landfill and other sites.
The proposed biorefinery will have a capacity to process 3,500 tons of waste a day that will yield approximately 22.9 million gallons of aviation fuel a year. This, emphasized Masigan, translates to P7.43 billion worth of import savings or export earnings, with plans to scale up (perhaps building more plants elsewhere in the country) as more waste becomes available.
For Masigan, the Wastefuel project meets a trifecta of his own personal goals: reducing the burden of waste and the consequent environmental problems this causes; earning not just for Wastefuel but for many other Filipinos down the line much-needed revenue; and preventing “brain drain” by providing employment and technology transfer to an estimated 300 scientists and engineers who will be needed for the plant’s operations.
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