P58-M fund for Tubbataha rehab released
Nine years after a US Navy ship ran aground on parts of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), and seven years after the United States had paid the Philippine government for the damage, the funds were finally released.
The provincial government of Palawan received the amount of P58,375,080 as money for the “rehabilitation of Tubbataha” on Oct. 25.
“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been working with us to get the funds released and transferred to the provincial government; they really worked on it,” TRNP protected area superintendent Angelique Songco said.
“[Former governor and now] congressman Antonio Alvarez also facilitated its release, and the provincial government will immediately bid out the work,” Songco added.
The funds will be used to complete the living quarters of the Tubbataha park rangers, who guard the reefs 24/7, 365 days a year. The current ranger station, built in 2000, sits on a sandbar in Tubbataha’s North Atoll, and has been continuously battered by typhoon winds. Also in the future, although not covered by the funds, are plans for the completion of a research station and a helipad.
An Inquirer story on Aug. 14 reported on the rangers’ plight.
“We are grateful for the contribution of the various agencies in providing our rangers with a safe and decent home in the middle of the Sulu Sea,” Songco said. “This is a clear expression of how much we as a nation value their personal sacrifices in safeguarding our patrimony.”
The 97,030-hectare TRNP was first declared a national marine park, the first of its kind, by then President Corazon Aquino in 1988.
It is now treasured as a Unesco World Heritage Site for being a haven of marine biodiversity. INQ
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