DENR: Big firms to help revive Boracay wetlands
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is allowing the country’s biggest corporations to undertake environmental projects in six of nine wetlands on Boracay Island, amid the government’s ongoing rehabilitation.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday said that he was grateful for the offers made by these companies to help the government achieve its goal of saving the resort island from degradation, through its “adopt a wetland” program.
“I was really very happy because when I saw their plans … I knew [these] would be expensive, and [the government had no] funds for that,” he said in an interview.
On Monday, Cimatu signed memorandums of agreement (MOAs) with Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and Energy Development Corp. (EDC), which the DENR allowed to revive Wetlands 4 and 2, respectively.
San Miguel Corp. is also eyeing to adopt Wetlands 3 and 9 while the Lucio Tan-owned Boracay Tubi System Inc., a water concessionaire, is set to take on Wetland 6.
JG Summit Holdings Inc. is aiming to adopt Wetland 1, located at Barangay Manocmanoc, but the MOA has yet to be signed, officials said.
Cimatu hoped that the rehabilitation of Wetlands 2 and 4 would be completed during the island’s reopening on Oct. 26, following a six-month cleanup.
Aboitiz showed DENR officials a computer-generated video presentation of its proposed development of Wetland 4, a 1-hectare rectangular lagoon at Barangay Balabag, the island’s main tourist and commercial area.
The presentation showed the lake would feature fountains, with a landscaped pathway surrounding its perimeter.
Power-generation firm EDC, meanwhile, seeks to rescue remaining endemic tree and animal species in Boracay by putting up a tree park with a bird-watching platform. They also proposed an awareness campaign on the critical flora and fauna of the island.
Cimatu said the government was not bound to compromise anything with sponsors on the wetlands project. The companies, too, are not expecting to make profits, he said.
But environment groups criticized how the DENR had “traded Boracay in wholesale” to big companies.
“These new deals contradict the DENR’s pronouncements that the island is well beyond its carrying capacity. Any new development on the island would result in an increase in people’s ecological footprint,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator for Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
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