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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Maasin’s Coastal Messmanagement

It is quite clear from the very start, and long before the on-going P170 million causeway (tambak) in barangay Combado came about, Maasin’s coastal areas had already been in a dismal mess, in wanton disarray despite countless provisions of law mandating coastal management. The LGUs do not understand or are just plain ignorant of their lawful obligation to act as frontliners in Integrated Coastal Management as mandated by Executive Order 533.

Just look at how Maasin City had passed an Ordinance establishing its Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the coastal barangays, but excluding barangay Combado which is very obviously already a part of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS). Barangay Combado and all barangays located in Maasin’s coastal areas, are considered as initial components of the System. The city’s MPA ordinance expressly cites the fact that in barangays inclusive of MPAs the only activity allowed is the planting of mangroves.

Yet look at how it is now in barangay Combado and ultimately in Lib-og where a P120 million causeway will be constructed. Combado residents and other fisherfolk living nearby had witnessed the mangrove planting project undertaken by the Maasin City government, with a giant billboard announcing the project with much fanfare. The project is nowhere to be found.

Section 2 of the NIPAS Law contains its Declaration of Policy, thus; “Cognizant of the profound impact of man’s activities on all components of the natural environment particularly the effect of increasing population, resource exploitation and industrial advancement and recognizing the critical importance of protecting and maintaining the natural biological and physical diversities of the environment notably on areas with biologically unique features to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life, it is hereby declared the policy of the state to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishments of the comprehensive system of integrated protected areas within the classification of national park as provided for in the Constitution.”

The policy further states that “… effective administration of this area is possible only through cooperation among national government, local government and concerned private organizations; that the use and enjoyment of these protected areas must be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable development.”

PeerScope is quite happy to reveal to our readers that one of the many letters sent by BARUG Maasin to concerned agencies had been acknowledged and that an investigation had been conducted recently. We can only hope that there will be no whitewash of the findings. We are also calling on PENRO-Southern Leyte, CENRO-Maasin, Maasin City’s OCAS, the BFAR for their official positions regarding the two causeways, the P170 million Combado causeway and Lib-og’s P120 million. Your silences are deafening and the poor fishermen and fisherfolk have been shouting about their harassment and oppression by people who are supposed to protect them. All the agencies I have cited are under moral and lawful obligation to do their bounden duties in the protection of Maasin’s marine ecosystem and biodiversity.

Executive Oder 533’s Integrated Coastal Management has, as far as Maasin City is concerned, turned into coastal messmanagement. There is a continuing wishy-washy mess. And all of you who are in government agencies under obligation to protect the environment, open your eyes, be awake now before it’s too late. PeerScope still has several aces in its sleeves to uncover the motives behind the destruction of Maasin’s marine ecosystem with its immense food resources already existing for years, and even centuries, before Maasin became a municipality in 1755.

Remember NIPAS, which is the “classification and administration of all designated protected areas to maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems, to preserve genetic diversity, to ensure sustainable use of resources found therein, and to maintain their natural conditions to the greatest extent possible.”

To destroy nature for the sake of development is never sustainable. It is a most myopic look at environmental destruction, an undertaking making man very unworthy of food from nature’s bounty. Such human greed reaching to the heavens for vengeance!

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