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Island off limits to locals for ‘Survivor’ shoot

FISHERMEN of Santa Ana in Cagayan set fishing nets on wooden poles to catch baby eels as the island of Palaui is seen in the background. Palaui Island is the location of the international television series “Survivor.” RICHARD BALONGLONG INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

TUGUEGARAO CITY—Advance filming for the television reality show  “Survivor” officially kicked off on Palaui Island in Santa Ana, Cagayan, last week, making parts of the island off  limits to locals, depriving them of their livelihood.

This has prompted local officials and church groups to express dismay that government officials and the show’s organizers allegedly ignored the social and environmental issues raised against the project long before taping officially started.

Santa Ana officials said the people behind the show had not done anything to address the problems and did not consult with the local government.

They assailed officials of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) for supposedly ignoring the authority of the town government and the pleas of affected sectors in Santa Ana.

Palaui Island is within the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport  and is declared a marine reserve under Proclamation No. 447, issued on Aug. 28, 1994. It is jointly managed by the PAMB and Ceza.

Aside from Palaui Island, “Survivor” will also feature the white beaches of Anguib and Pozo Robo on the northeastern tip of the Luzon mainland.

In a statement, Ceza officials maintained that affected residents and boatmen had been provided alternative livelihood and were “greatly compensated,” including those living in Cape Engaño and Siwangag. The statement, however, did not specify what kind of assistance was extended to the residents.

The event has reportedly provided jobs to 47 residents in Palaui and 57 from nearby San Vicente village, the Ceza statement said.

The Inquirer sought Benjamin Tumaliuan, regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and PAMB chair, but he did not respond to text messages sent and calls made to his mobile phone.

Sr. Minerva Caampued of  Saint Anthony Parish said organizers broke their promise to provide alternative sources of livelihood to local fishermen and farmers on Palaui Island and its neighboring villages.

“Portions of the island, which have been the most popular tourism destinations, such as Cape Engaño and Siwangag Cove, have been rendered off limits to tourists and locals. This has made banca  drivers practically jobless,” she said.

Contrary to pledges, not a single boat from  Palaui San Vicente Motor Banca Association  had been hired to provide transport services for the project, she added.

Members of  Palaui Environmental Protectors’ Association (Pepa), a people’s organization, were also dismayed by reports that residents, who had been previously hired for the “Survivor” preparations, had been fired for no particular reason.

“We are residents of the island but we cannot go to those areas where they were having this ‘Survivor.’ We are against it but we have not been heard,” said Pastor Johnny Francisco, Pepa president.

Melecio Costales of  Santa Ana Alliance for Social and Environmental Concerns, another people’s organization, said the people of Santa Ana were being shortchanged in the hosting of “Survivor.”

“We are asking that the show’s producers pay the mandated user’s fee for the use of the island, which is a protected area. But that is not happening because what we will be getting are only the huts [used in the filming] as a form of donation,” he said. Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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Tags: Cagayan Economic Zone Authority , News , Regions , Survivor , TV reality show

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