IJsselstein, Thursday, 25 September 2003 (updated: Sunday, 28 September 2003)
Written by Rene N. Sumodobila:
September 11, 2003
Mr. William P. Cunado
Dear Mr. Cunado,
Re: Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) No. 07 03 05-28 0239 215 (Granted to Alturas Port and Warehouse Complex Project located at Bgy. Tangnan, Panglao, Bohol)
As an ordinary overseas Boholano, I'm writing you to show my concern for the general issues concerning the issuance of the above-referred ECC to the Alturas Supermaket of Tagbilaran City.
We understand that the ECC application for this project has been rejected by the DENR, EMB-7, by the then Regional Director Alan C. Arranguez in his letter dated Oct. 22, 2001.
Question: What change in environmental condition(s) then and now that caused the DENR to reverse its position in order to issue the above-referred ECC to the Alturas Supermarket Corp. for its Port and Warehouse Complex project?
As far as Boholanos are concerned, nothing has changed in its opposition to the project. In fact, Boholanos now vigorously opposes the project based on the following specific conditions:
PANGLAO TOURISM ESTATE -- The APWCP (Alturas Port and Warehouse Complex Project) will undermine the environment of the whole Panglao Island, an island that has been declared a Tourism Estate by the national government for the past decade. The establishment of a commercial port will pollute the pristine waters of Panglao Island.
INCREASED TRAFFIC -- The business activity of the APWCP will increase the volume of large trucks and vans conveying cargoes and merchandize to and from different destinations of Bohol. When traffic volume has increased, it poses additional danger to the citizens within the vicinity considering that the roads in and around Panglao Island are very narrow.
UNDERMINE THE TAGBILARAN PORT -- In the ECC, the purpose of the APWCP is UNCLEAR; however, it is obvious that the project will be used to handle its incoming goods and merchandise for their supermarket (wholesale and retail distribution) operations in Bohol. If such APWCP is allowed to be built, their port operations will undermine and erode the revenues of the Tagbilaran City Port that has recently expanded to accommodate growing trade and commerce, a bulk part of which comes from the business of the Alturas Supermarket.
UNFAIR BUSINESS COMPETITION. -- If APWCP is allowed to operate is own port, which means they are assured of lower handling cost of their goods and merchandise for use in trade and commerce, they can outcompete and possibly wipe out their competitors, especially the small and marginal ones, who cannot afford to build their own port facilities.
SOCIAL ACCEPTABILITY. -- The APWCP has a very low social acceptability among Boholanos especially the people in the whole of Panglao Island. The project is not only divisive to the harmony of the community, especially in the Municipality of Panglao itself, but to the entire Province of Bohol that has looked upon at the Alturas Supermarket as a business giant motivated by its predatory business practices.
On behalf of many Boholanos overseas who are opposed to the APWPC and, in a little way, also contributing to the Philippine economy in form of its foreign money remittance, I beg you to withdraw your Environmental Compliance Certificate for the APWCP.
Rene N. Sumodobila
And by Lynette L. Dumalag:
September 15, 2003
Elisea G. Gozun
Dear Elisea G. Gozun:
My name is Lynette Dumalag and I am an American-Filipino. My family comes Panglao, Bohol, a small town where tourism and small volume fishermen thrive. The purpose of my letter is to inform you of a growing environmental concern within this community.
A small barrio named Tangnan is the home of small time fishermen and farmers. As you probably already know, this particular area consists of very porous rocky terrain. The earth is karst, which from my understanding is very good a channeling liquid or chemicals from the topsoil to the lower stratum. If there were to be any considerable amount of pollution, the karstic earth would funnel any contaminants down to the shoreline, thus destroying the delicate ecosystem. Not only would these fishermen suffer from this, but also the surrounding resorts. The tourists like to visit Panglao because of itís serenity and because it has so much to offer in terms of scuba diving and snorkeling.
Within the past couple of years, a local company named Alturas Group of Companies (AGC) has intended to construct a private port and warehouse in that small barrio. As you can imagine, the residents at Tangnan have been very much against the construction of this port. Because of the implications that it would have upon the environment, and the effect it would have on the local fishermenís livelihood, there have been town meetings, rallies, and even a petition. After a number of years the Environmental Management Bureau failed to grant the Alturas Group of Companies an Environmental Compliance Certificate and were advised to seek an alternative site. I have enclosed three documents, dated in 2001, from the regional director (EMB-7), Bohol Environment Management Office, and the Regional Executive Director.
With a change in the provincial administration, AGC was again pushing the issue of a private port and warehouse. Two years after a denial of the Environmental Compliance Certificate, AGC was granted one by current regional director Bienvenido L. Lipayon. I have also enclosed copies of this certificate. After some research on your bureauís website indicating the status of Environmental Compliance Certificates (www.emb.gov.ph/eia/status/Region%7207.htm), it had stated that the application was filled on 4/29/03 and was approved 5/28/03. Now, I am curious about this result. Is a month really enough time to determine that the environment is suitable for this kind of infrastructure? Is there not a grace period in which decisions like this can be made after so many years? Also, I have a hard time believing that the environment in Tangnan had changed so drastically within two years that it is now permissible to construct a port there. Since the first scoping and denial of the Environmental Compliance Certificate, what have been the changes that would make this port acceptable as stated in your bureauís Proposed Scoping Guidelines for Selected Major Infrastructure Projects (major Ports and Harbors) DENR Administrative Order No. 37, series of 1996? And above all, why did your organization grant this certificate at all after realizing all the complications that come with this port?
Some may argue that this port would encourage and stimulate the local economy. Although this port may bring some jobs to the local people, the disadvantages far outweigh that one advantage.
I have a vested interest in this small barrio. My paternal grandfather and grandmother were born and married here. My father was born in the house that my grandmother is living in. I have an emotion bond with people and the land and I have visited many times, ever since I was a toddler. My neighbors there are my relatives. I want to ensure that this wonderland is secure for them and that it remains unspoiled by the time I have grandchildren visiting me there. Averting the construction of this port and warehouse is a preventive step against an environmental problem that will most likely occur.
I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you.
Lynette L. Dumalag
|chito almazan wrote:|
|Monday, 19 April 2004 05:07:56 PHT|
|my name is chito almazan living here in america for over 3 decade. i am not from bohol but married one. my concern is protecting the environment, whether it's in bohol or anywhere else. it so happen that i a married a boholana and decided that when we retire we will be spending the rest of our lives in bohol, paritcularly in panglao. we bought our property back in 2000 and decided to build our house there. but with the plan that alturas has to build their private port in panglao should not be even be entertain by you or any other gov't employee due to the fact you as the head of your department should see what's best for the environment, the people and most of all you should protect the environment for the younger generations to enjoy. no private individual or company should be even allowed to build their own port it's just because they have the money or can afford it. those things should not matter, because the reason you are there is the gov't think that you are the best person to protect the people and the environment, by not allowing any private individual or company be it your friends or relatives or compadre, because you don't own the ocean also. but if you are just like any other gov't employee taking bribes from people who will use their money and power to get what they want, then you should'nt be there or should be ashamed of yourself using your small power to enriched yourself, family, relatives or even friends. those of you who are in the gov't have a very bad reputation here in abroad, that most of you are corrupt, don't know anything about the job they were entrusted to do, but it's because of connections. we, who live here abroad are having a second thought of coming back home to retire, because of so many reasons. if the gov't is not corrupt or if they are smart inviting all filipinos abroad to come back home and retire just imagine how much impact on that to our lagging econmy. if the gov't would only make it easier to come home and retire, i am pretty sure almost all of us here abroad would like to come back home and retire. but instead gov't make it hard on us to come home because of all red tapes bureaucracy, bribes and other things that make us think twice to come home and retire. i hope that my opinion would be seen by filipinos all over the world and hope to give also their insight as far as how we can make our country a better place to live without reservation. but to do that all employees working for the gov't. starting from the bottom all the way to the top should now clean up their act, and we should all work together for a better philippines to live not only for us but for other generations to come, and still enjoy the beauty of the nature and environment still intact.|
|Omar Akthar wrote:|
|Sunday, 28 September 2003 12:08:35 PHT|
|I'm writing this letter to President Arroyo.
Dear President Arroyo,
My name is Omar Akthar, a senior majoring in Biology at Georgetown University. My mother, Dr. Lucy Dumalag, was born in Panglao Island, Bohol. First of all, I completely agree with your stance on promoting economic development while at the same time protecting the environment as much as possible. For the island of Panglao, tourism is the most economically important industry. I am sure that if you were to go scuba diving along its coastline as I many tourists have done time and time again, you would be immediately taken aback at the delicate intricacy of the coral reefs as well as the flora and fauna which inhabit them. The Alturas Group of Companies plans to construct a private port in Panglao to bypass fees required to use the Tagbilaran City Port in order to further monopolize the supermarket business. Panglaoís deep water allows for the possibility of constructing the port quite close to shore, providing Alturas with a little more cost-effective approach than constructing the port on the mainland coast, where shallower waters would necessitate the extension of the dock a few meters farther off shore. As it stands, Alturas had been planning the port for some time and had bought land rather expediently in anticipation of its construction, but the DENR declined it an Environmental Compliance Certificate in 2001. For brevity, I will not go into the laundry list of direct ramifications associated with drastically changing the chemical composition of Panglaoís pristine waters. Just take, for example, the high likelihood of tourists at Panglao Island Nature Resort acquiring acute gastroenteritis from the fecal streptococci emanating from the portís animal stockyards less than a mile away. It is my opinion, and that of many, that not only would this port hinder tourism in Panglao but that in the long run it simply makes sense to establish the port on the mainland where tourism is not an integral factor of the local economy.
Furthermore, after being declined an by the DENR in late 2001, the Alturas Group of Companies received one in May of this year, even though the Company has changed absolutely nothing about its proposal. Secretary of the DENR, Elisea G. Gozun, as you may know, has almost instantaneously accumulated 16.1 million pesos in unaccounted wealth, and is currently being investigated by your Presidential Anti-Graft Commission. Obviously, this suggests that the Alturas company may be bribing Gozun, Madame President. I know it is much to ask, but I and so many others would appreciate your personal investigation into the problems surrounding this Alturas affair, in order to exemplify both your adamant stance on the environment and legitimate business practices, as well as your dedication to the elimination of corruption in public office to the same degree that you are cracking down on terrorism and drug trafficking.
I cannot thank you enough for attention to this matter.
You may be aware that President Arroyo and her husband visited Bohol some time ago, and may also like to read the following article in the Bohol Chronicle. Maybe you could refer to her visit and statements made at that time and other occasions.--Jeroen
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