IJsselstein, Sunday, 28 September 2003 03:36:07
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