Sunday, 4 April 2010

P164-million vital projects eyed for Samal Island

Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/251011/p164million-vital-projects-eyed-samal-island

ISLAND GARDEN CITY OF SAMAL (Igacos), Davao del Norte (PNA) – The local government here is set to implement some P164 million worth of environmental projects that will make sure the island is able to maintain its clean environment despite the influx of tourists and establishments.

Igacos Mayor Aniano Antalan said the Environmental User’s Fee (EUF) which will be collected from all visitors going to the island is expected to raise funds for these projects from various sources.

Antalan said City Ordinance No. 156, Series of 2009, created the EUF – a sustainable revenue-generating mechanism that allows the local government to manage, develop, and protect the environment by charging fees to tourists and visitors in exchange for enjoying the area.

The EUF is appropriately called the “Blue-Green Ticket” which was implemented this Holy Week.
This means that tourists, scuba divers, mountaineers, and mountain bikers who visit the island will have to pay P5 each. However, local residents here will not be charged the EUF.

“We expect to collect at least P1 million from the EUF during that time,” City Environment and Natural Resources Officer Edward Sisor said.

Antalan said they need at least P91 million for the city’s sanitary landfill project, P11.5 million for the waste water treatment facility, P1.5 million for the slaughter house, P6.5 million for the coastal park, P3.5 million for the Penaplata Park, and P50 million for a treatment facility.

He said that local government environmental protection is one of the goals of his administration but they can only do this if they have enough resources to protect the environment, considering the influx of tourists in the area.

Davao Gulf is one of the key biodiversity areas in the world and it could be the last frontier in this part of the globe, he added.

Resort owners and operators on Samal Island are in full support of the environmental projects being implemented by the local government, knowing that it would ultimately benefit the island’s tourism industry.

The island’s business sector is aware of the ecological threats faced by the Gulf as a result of solid waste and wastewater pollution, illegal fishing, and pesticide residues.

The threats were confirmed by Dr. Victor S. Luis, Jr., a consultant of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Philippine Environmental Governance Project Phase 2 or EcoGov.

Meanwhile, Davao City Councilor Leonardo Avila, who is also the chairperson of the Davao Gulf Management Council, said they are aware of the risks being faced by Davao Gulf because of the development in and surrounding the area.

“Davao Gulf is one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world and it hosts 17 species of mangroves, 44 species of seaweeds, and at least five species of marine turtle,” Avila said.

He said this alone should convince the local governments and the private sector along the area to be concerned about protecting the environs of the Davao Gulf.

One indication of the increasing pollution in the Davao Gulf area, Avila said is the declining bangus catch which used to be a major livelihood in nearby Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

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