SALBARON ANG BAYBAYON, PUGULAN ANG EKSPANSYON!
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We raise urgent concerns regarding the on-going construction along the Virac poblacion beach under the project “Construction/Improvement of Access Roads Leading to Seaport, Imelda Boulevard, Virac, Catanduanes”. As per news article in the Catanduanes Tribune dated June 28, 2017, the project is in fact the first phase of a much bigger “Convergence Program of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Public Works and Highways” slated to start in 2018.
In said phase one, a 146-meter stretch from the breakwater to a point near the municipal government compound will be expanded by some 12 meters seaward to come up with something similar to Manila’s Baywalk.
Such undertaking will eat up the seashore, burying it under a heavy layer of boulders and concrete. Specifically, it will cause the following undesirable and unintended effects:
1. Undermining the ecological health of the extensive coral reef system of Salvacion-San Pablo, sanctuary of marine biodiversity and a source of livelihood for many people
2. Obliteration of the Salvacion-San Pablo stretch of the seashore that cradles a cherished way of life and nurtures the character and identity of generations. At present, it provides wholesome and free venue for recreational outings by individuals, groups and families; for exercising by health buffs; and for physical rehabilitation for various afflictions.
3. Removal of the natural barrier of seashore sand against battery and destruction of the protective sea wall during storm surges.
Clearly, the project entails highly questionable worth for the community and in fact presents potential irreversible and profound loss of environmental, economic, and socio-cultural resources.
We also deride the fact that the project is being imposed with unusual dispatch but without proper consultation with the stakeholders. Indeed, the people of the poblacion were rudely taken aback to see those huge boulders intruding brutally into the serene expanse of their beach, wondering how the advocates of progress are destroying some mountains to destroy the seashores.
In view of the forgoing, we call for the following immediate measures:
1. Suspend implementation of the project.
2. Thoroughly review the plans, not only for the first phase but also the other components.
3. Hold thorough consultations with stakeholders, to include people’s organizations, non-government organizations, government units both local and national, the academe, and experts.
On the long-term, we push for the following:
1. Ensure that development programs must cater clearly and uncompromisingly to the interests of the people, the integrity of the environment and the preservation of culture.
2. Secure genuine participation by civil society in determining the shape and direction of development programs
Let us pursue human development that respects integrity of the environment and upholds our common heritage!
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