Sunday 22 October 2017 08:43:49 PHT

Proposed Port at Tangnan Threatens Sensitive Ecosystem

IJsselstein, Thursday, 25 September 2003 (updated: Sunday, 28 September 2003)


Coastline near the proposed port in Tangnan.

For some years, the Alturas Group of Companies (AGC), owned by one of the most influential Filipino-Chinese bussiness men on Bohol, Marlito Uy, is pursuing the construction of a private port in Barangay Tangnan, Panglao, Bohol.

Recently, the AGC received Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), No. 07 03 05-28 0239 215 from Mr. Cunado, a senior officer of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Cebu. An ECC is, although not a building permit in itself, an important step into obtaining such a permit.

However, the construction of a port, and its related infrastructure, at the proposed site in Tangnan is a very bad idea, for a number of important reasons.

First of all, the Island of Panglao is part of the Bohol Marine Triangle (BMT), which an environmentally critical area that includes the islands of Pamilacan, Panglao and Balicasag and surrounding waters. This area is a known as the habitat of over 150 species of reef-fishes, many of which are also economically important. The BMT is also the habitat of no less than eleven dolphin and whale species, namely Risso’s dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, Fraser’s dolphin, Pantropical spotted dolphin, long-snouted spinner dolphin, melon-headed whale, short-finned pilot whale, sperm whale, Bryde’s whale, and less frequently, Pygmy sperm whale and Blainvelle’s beaked whale. Besides that, the triangle includes numerous coral reefs, with their important and sensitive ecosystems. Just two years ago, to protect this important area, a project was started, which received USD 800,000 from the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE).

Divers investigating the site
Divers Investigating the Site in 2000.

Constructing a commercial port in this sensitive area poses a massive threat to this unique ecosystem, which also provides a livelyhood to numerous small fishers and their families.

Second, because of its unique ecosystem, Panglao is a major tourist destination in the Philippines, attracting large numbers of domestic and foreign tourists every year. These tourist are an important source of income for Bohol, and provide jobs for many Boholano's.

Constructing a port here will dramatically reduce the attractiveness of Panglao as a tourist destination, and will directly destroy the source of income for many, and have a dramatic negative impact on the income of the Province. Very close to the proposed port site are a number of coral reefs popular with foreign scuba divers, which will certainly be destroyed.

Third, the port and related infrastructure is proposed to be constructed on Karst soil. This type of soil is very good in conducting liquids or chemicals from the topsoil to the lower layers. If there were to be a considerable amount of pollution, the karstic soil would easily funnel any contaminants down to the shoreline, and thus also add to the destruction of the delicate ecosystem.

In the direct neighbourhood are a number of caves, namely, Inubod Cave, Kalingngo-ob Cave, located in AGC property, Kang-isti Cave, and the famous Hinagdanan Cave in Bingag at less then half a kilometer from the site.

Corals near the site
Corals near the Site

Also, the port is very likely to overuse the already strained and very limited fresh-water resources of Panglao island, which will cause hardship on local inhabitants to obtain fresh water and may cause severe salination of the soil, and thus harm agriculture.

Forth, the traffic caused by the proposed port at Tangnan will cause local roads and bridges, constructed for light traffic only, to detoriate, and will also wreck havoc on the peace and tranquility of the island. Since truck-drivers are infamous for their reckless driving habits, often under pressure from employers to deliver as quickly as possible, the number of traffic accidents and deaths will surely increase.

Besides all these objections, construction of a port at this location makes no economical sense, as a fully operational port with sufficient capacity is available in Tagbilaran city, and a number of alternatives sites can be located in the region that have considerbly less objections.

The objections were actually the reason that an earlier application for an ECC was rejected by the DENR in 2001. It is therefore puzzling to see how a new, basically unchanged, application for an ECC met approval. It is also notable that it was applied for shortly after a new officer took office in the Cebu office of DENR, and in in spite of earlier pronounced policies and clear objections from many affected groups and individuals.


Map of the site of the proposed port in Tangnan.

More background documentation on this issue can be found here.

A wealth of information on coastal resource management can be found on the site of One Ocean, The Philippine s' Coastal Management Information Center. They have an excellent book, Bohol Island, Its Coastal Environment Profile available as a free download.

Opponents

The list of opponents to the Tangnan Port includes:

  1. Sanguniang Bayan, Panglao, Bohol, according to administrative order 17, series of 2000.
  2. Municipality of Panglao, according to administrative order 1, series of 2000.
  3. Tabu-an Fisherman organization.
  4. Bili-isan Fisheries Association.
  5. Lo-ok Bay Fisherman's Association.
  6. Dulho Bay Fisherman's Association.
  7. Diamond Senior Citizens of Panglao.
  8. Panglao Seaweed Farmer's Association.
  9. Hotel Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants of Panglao.
  10. Alona Beach Community Foundation Association of Panglao.
  11. MACO TAPADA (Maribojoc-Cortes-Tagbilaran-Panglao-Dauis) Association.
  12. Tangnan Fisheries Association.
  13. Shoreline Village Corp.

and numerous individuals.

What can you do?

Write letters of concern or protest to various officials, including various officials of the DENR and the National Ombudsman.

Place your comment, name, and email address in the form under this article. This is an open forum in which you can articulate your opinion about the plans.

Addresses

Mr. William P. Cunado
Chief, EIA Division
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU
Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),
Region VII
Greenplains Subdivision, Banilad
Madaue City, Philippines
Elisea G. Gozun
DENR Secretary
Central Office
Visayas Ave, Diliman
1100 Quezon City
Philippines
Office of the Ombudsman Central Office
Ombudsman Building
Agham Road, North Triangle,
Diliman, Quezon City 1128

Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas
Palace of Justice, Capitol Site,
Cebu City 6000
Tel No. (032) 255-0976
Fax (032) 253-0981

Many more useful addresses can be found on the site of the Ombudsman.

Two protest letters can be found here. If you decide to write a letter yourself, please also forward a copy for addition on this page.

Jeroen Hellingman

What readers think...

Philip Kit Morris wrote:
Wednesday, 5 January 2005 14:26:55 PHT
I'm a U.K./Canadian living and working in Asia for last 12 years.I work in Korea in the financial sector. Staying at Alona Beach and diving around the reef areas within the Bohol Marine Triangle(BMT) hold very special memories for me and my friends. We try to visit Alona twice (or more each year if I could) - usually coming from my place in Cebu via Tagbiliran port. Ideally, Mr. Uy could probably buy some land and build his stockyard there in Tagbiliran and donate the land he/they own by the Alona area to the BMT. Now, that would truly be a most magnanimous,admirable, charitable and a very noble thing to do for the community at large and Panglao's tourist industry as well. A gift of that nature would serve to achieve an enduring and humanitarian legacy for the Uy family in the eyes of Boholans and beyond the Philippines. BUT is it possible ? The logistics don't make sense. Why was the application approved by the ignorant newbie in DENR Cebu who is unaware of what truly is at stake? Who is he trying to impress... or was he coerced? OR is Empire building, selfish pride, avarice and money all that matters to the Uys? As of now the waters are relatively clean, the reefs are in good shape,(compared to Cebu) although evidence of dynamite fishing is still apparent ...and also beautiful color - still blue and turquoise; not green yet. The people there are friendly, it's quiet and the mix of food/accom./diving is great. Yet, I know that many businesses and families there have been struggling... but this is one person who appreciates what you are doing for tourism, the reef ecosystem, diving and the fishermen. I was shocked to hear Genesis Diver's say "that unless people make their opposition known loud and clear to the government and the Uy family --the destruction of this wonderful marine habitat will be unavoidable. The Uy family's unnecessary "private port" development to ship livestock while b-ypassing government run facilities at nearby Tagbiliran is suspicious...is environmentally short-sighted and will cost the province much more than it benefits them or any of the corrupt officials who permit its construction. Also I don't appreciate the Korean "xenophobic and isolationist" attitude in their take over of Crystal Beach or whatever they call it now on the bluff at the one end of Alona. The resort is now totally "off limits" to anyone who is NOT Korean...this is an affront to the community and the "open-armed welcome" you usually get in the Visayas. They are putting a black mark on the warm&friendly corporate image of Bohol's Hospitality and Tourism Industry
lucia suarez wrote:
Saturday, 3 April 2004 04:48:06 PHT
THE BUILDING OF A PORT IN PANGLAO IS REALLY DISASTROUS. IT WILL RUIN THE REPUTATION OF PANGLAO AS A MAIN TOURIST DESTINATION IN THE PHILIPPINES. I AM RECENTLY IN AFRICA AND I MET QUITE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT NATIONALITIES WHO HAD BEEN IN BOHOL AND THEIR COMMENTS WERE JUST AMAZING, WHITE SANDY BEACHES, TRANQUILITY, DIVING ETC...INDEED A HONEYMOONERS` PARADISE. I WAS SO PROUD TO CLAIM THAT I AM A BOHOLANA. NOW I THINK IT IS NOT FAIR TO DESTROY THIS PARADISE IMAGE BOHOL GOT JUST FOR THE INTEREST OF ONE NON PURE FILIPINO FAMILY. SORRY TO SAY THAT BUT I AM JUST DESPERATE HOW SOMEBODY IN THE POSITION COULD ISSUE SUCH PERMIT TO BUILD THE SAID PORT IN TANGNAN. MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING. WE HAVE TO RESPECT NATURE.
Mrs. Cook wrote:
Monday, 29 March 2004 01:51:08 PHT
I used to live in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. There is a mile long white Dania beach and Ft. Lauderdale beach which our family frequented. Even of beautiful white beach, the drawback is the oil slick because of the port nearby. The port authorities has strict regulation to keep the port clean and free of environmental hazards and is continuously doing it but because the port has ships, ships needs oil, oil drips into the ocean, which should not be, there is still pollution. Every morning there are tractors that sweep the beach clean for tourist to walk. Tourist walk and jog on the clean white shore. When you walk barefooted on the clean looking shore, most of the times your feet is full of oil slick. Your feet is covered with black tar, just like the tar used for paving the road. It is difficult to remove. Oil also kills the sea weeds and coral reefs. Since sea weeds and coral reefs are not living, fish, crabs,shrimps,whale,dolphins and other sea creatures will not live there too. Tourist will not like to see that happen. They will go to another place to see and enjoy. Natives will lost their source of livelihood. Bohol government might lost its prestige as the #1 tourist destination in the Philippines and Bohol might lost tourist income if a private port is granted to be built. There are alternative to port and let's inform the public to support this cause and pray that the Uy family will listen to the people not to build this port. We want to preserve God's given beauty, the creatures that live around it and the livelihood of everyone that touches it!
Ernst P. Hall wrote:
Thursday, 19 February 2004 13:13:10 PHT
Just to set the record straight, I'm an American, a retired professional Chemical Engr. I have spent most of my working life in matters related to environmental controls including more than 25 yrs in US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I also have some interest here in Visayas and have been vacationing and working off and on here over the last 15 yrs.About a year ago I examined some of the areas of Panglao Island including both beach areas and interior sites. The geology of the island makes it difficult to dispose of polluting waste by putting waste into the ground ,polluting waste waters generated on the island will tend to seep toward the shore and discharge into the litoral waters, this would tend to maximize the pollutional effects of inland industries and installations. Some 30 yrs ago, the USA began a major effort to reduce water pollution and control the polluting discharges from all kinds of industries.The US Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 required different regulations for existing and new sources with the requirement for new sources being much more stringent.In implementing these Water Pollution Control Act it has proven to be much more economic and effective to control the resources while existing source control has proven to be more costly and not as effective as new source control. Hence, it is very important to evaluate and consider that a resort and recreation area onced degraded by industrial and agricultural waste waters may suffer permanent damage. It may not be technically feasible or economically achievable to return the polluted areas to their prime residential,reacreational and fisheries use.
Cor /Marietta Kemp wrote:
Sunday, 26 October 2003 23:21:35 PHT
Actually, if the high gov't. officials of Bohol or Panglao are not "nearsighted", they would not allow these Fil.-Chinese businessmen to exploit Panglao island. We all know what the consequences are of having a commercial port in this island. Water pollution is a disaster to the fishermen's source of income. Eco-tourism would surely fade away. And above all, having a port would not benefit to the majority of the island's inhabitants. The natural underwater beauty has to be preserved and not to be destroyed!

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